Assessing Transportation Infrastructure and Community Vulnerability to Increased Flooding Risk in Tribal Lands

The resilience and vulnerability of the nation’s transportation and infrastructure to extreme weather under a changing climate is in critical need of further research. In particular, the South-Central US (Region 6 including Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas) has new challenges each year to combat extreme weather events. Previous building standards, codes, and practices of transportation that were established based on the FEMA 100-year floodplain, without considering the new climatic trends, are outdated, and not prepared to meet the emerging natural challenges predicted in the future. Therefore, there is an urgent research need for updating civil infrastructure design criteria for better adaptation and finding sustainable solutions for the future. Flooding, which is a major risk, is projected to increase in frequency and severity. Assessing the vulnerability of transportation infrastructure to flooding will enable targeted adaptation efforts. In this study, the research team will develop a future floodplain map that considers climate impact and is forced by the RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway) 8.5 scenario, known as the business-as-usual scenario. This research will analyze current and future flood risks to transportation infrastructure serving the Otoe-Missouria Oklahoma Tribe (OMT). Specific objectives include the following: (1) Map the current 10/50/100 floodplain within the tribal jurisdiction using hydrologic-hydraulic models; (2) Project future 10/50/100 floodplains under RCP 8.5 scenario, incorporating climate change impacts on precipitation; (3) Identify roadways, bridges, transit routes, and railway tracks within current and future floodplains; (4) Assess the vulnerability of these transportation infrastructure and map community risks due to 10/50/100 flood events; (5) Propose flood mitigation measures including nature-based solutions. This project will lay the groundwork for expanded efforts to detailed climate mitigation and adaptation plans with nature-based solutions. This project also provides opportunities to expand to other Tribal Nations in Region 6. Specifically, the research team will engage the Choctaw Nation and Citizen Potawatomi Nation to showcase the results of this study and propose expansion of the study to these tribal regions. The proposed study region will include two creek basins located within the OMT. The Greasy Creek basin contains a significant traffic intersection and makes an ideal candidate to study potential impacts of climate change. The Red Rock Creek basin contains a significant road crossing of US 177 near the OMT community center. The proposed research will consist of the following five tasks. Task 1: This task involves gathering research data from OMT including socioeconomic profiles, geospatial attributes such as road networks, and preparing hydrologic forcing data for the model setup. Task 2: This task involves floodplain mapping under the current conditions using the state-of-the-science two-dimensional hydrologic-hydraulic model – CREST-iMAP, developed at the HyDROS group, University of Oklahoma. Task 3: This task involves floodplain mapping in a warmer climate utilizing the results of Task 2 and future climate scenarios. Task 4: This task involves vulnerability mapping of transportation infrastructure utilizing the updated floodplain maps developed in this research. Task 5: This task includes impact-based assessments on local OMT communities and engagement of the Choctaw Nation and Citizen Potawatomi Nation for future studies. The innovative methodology of updating the 10/50/100-year floodplain map from this work will allow research communities to extend the proposed approach to other regions in the future. This work tangibly demonstrates how research can support environmental justice and build capacity for community-engaged research with Indigenous peoples.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $150000
  • Contract Numbers:



  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Southern Plains Transportation Center

    University of Oklahoma
    201 Stephenson Pkwy, Suite 4200
    Norman, OK  United States  73019
  • Project Managers:

    Dunn, Denise

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Oklahoma, Norman

    School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science
    202 West Boyd Street, Room 334
    Norman, OK  United States  73019

    Otoe Missouria Oklahoma Tribe

    Red Rock, Oklahoma  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Hong, Yang

    King, Farina

    Tsoodle, Theresa

    LeClair, James

  • Start Date: 20231001
  • Expected Completion Date: 20240930
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01899359
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Southern Plains Transportation Center
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3552348306, CY1-OU-01
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Nov 15 2023 9:43PM