Integrating Resiliency into Transportation System Operations

Throughout the United States, transportation systems are experiencing increased frequency and severity of natural and human-caused events, forcing a recognition of a new normal that results in losses of life and major damage to public and private property. These events exist on a spectrum: known, forecasted, and unknown. Known events and their impacts can be anticipated with some degree of accuracy because of prior experiences with such events (e.g., planned special events or planned major roadwork). Forecasted events also are based on prior experiences, but their impacts are more difficult to understand and estimate because there is less certainty and possibly an incomplete understanding of the nature of the event, especially as experiences and data do not reflect the new normal (e.g., major weather events). Unknown events are those not anticipated in any manner (failure of imagination, compounding crises, or new phenomena not previously experienced) and therefore their impacts can be severe and resilience strategies may be imprecise or not yet considered. Much of the focus in improving the resilience of the transportation system has been on infrastructure investments for hardening or redesigning critical infrastructure elements to ensure that they survive deliberate attacks or natural or human-caused events. While this is an important perspective, the nature of investments needed to implement these improvements is often large and time-consuming. Less attention has been afforded to the need to address resilience as a major element in operations and management of the transportation system (at all levels of government) to identify less costly and time-consuming operational strategies, tools, scalable approaches, or partnerships. State department of transportation (DOT) system operators need to understand resilient approaches and how to systematically incorporate them to manage events and impacts to create a “culture of resilience” and to understand their capability gaps. Integrating resilience into planning for operations begins with an understanding of the needs, the goals and objectives; the performance management of operational reliability; and the alternatives to be considered. However, a major barrier to addressing resilience is that resilience is generally larger than a single asset or event and requires coordination among multiple agencies, jurisdictions, funding sources, and transportation modes. Integrating resilience into planning for operations can give resilience greater visibility in the transportation planning and programming process so that resilience is considered when major investments are made in new infrastructure or when investments are made to improve the performance of existing infrastructure. The objectives of this research are (1) identify the extent to which operational resilience is considered within DOTs and determine capability gaps, (2) determine operational resilience goals from the perspective of system operators across multiple modes, and (3) identify mechanisms for integrating operational resilience into system management processes to build a “culture of resilience.”


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $350000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 08-146

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Wadsworth, Trey

  • Performing Organizations:

    Metro Analytics

    Salt Lake City, Utah  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Varma, Amiy

  • Start Date: 20221214
  • Expected Completion Date: 20221014
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01739635
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 08-146
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 20 2020 9:26AM