Managing Catastrophic Transportation Emergencies: A Guide for Transportation Executives

Since 2001, research has produced numerous documents and other tools for use by transportation security and emergency management planners, trainers, and operators. Much of this effort has been conducted to close a gap in planning, training, or operations as identified through after-action reports. There have been a number of events that have caused catastrophic transportation failure. These failures range from acts of nature such as flooding in the midwest and northeast in 2011, to the widespread destruction caused by hurricanes Katrina (2005), Gustav (2008), and Ike (2008). Though the United States is fortunate not to have recent examples of terrorist-related transportation emergencies, there have been attacks on transit systems in Moscow, London, and Madrid that provide examples of the results of such acts. Other catastrophic transportation emergencies can be attributed to infrastructure failure such as the I-35W Bridge in Minnesota; accidents such as the "MacArthur Maze" fire in California; and natural disasters such as the Northridge earthquake. Also on the catastrophic emergencies preparedness topic, on January 16, 2009, the Homeland Security Council (HSC) Interagency Policy Coordination Subcommittee for Preparedness and Response to Radiological and Nuclear Threats released Planning Guidance for Response to a Nuclear Detonation to provide emergency planners with nuclear detonation-specific response recommendations to maximize the preservation of life in the event of an urban nuclear detonation. The target audiences for the HSC guidance are response planners (including transportation planners) and their leadership. Despite all the emergency situations, lessons learned, research, and documentation, however, there is still a gap in preparing transportation agency executives and senior leaders for their roles during a catastrophic event, particularly the decision making required to initially respond to and then recover from the emergency. Research is needed to develop a Guide for preparing transportation agency executives and senior leaders before and during a catastrophic emergency involving transportation systems or other emergencies in which transportation systems are affected. The objective of this research is to develop a Guide for preparing transportation agency executives and senior leaders for their roles and decision points in response to and recovery from catastrophic emergencies, including those in which transportation systems are affected.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-59(36)

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Performing Organizations:

    Countermeasures Assessment & Security Experts, LLC

    527 Cooper Street, Suite 305
    Camden, NJ  United States  08102
  • Principal Investigators:

    Western, Jeffrey

  • Start Date: 20120711
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20140331
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37952

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01546018
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-59(36)
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Dec 2 2014 1:01AM