Infrastructure Resilience and Adaptation for Hurricanes in Coastal Areas

Sea level rise (SLR) is expected to have a significant impact on future coastal flooding in the greater Norfolk/Hampton Roads area, where global SLR estimates are on the order of 0.3 m by the 2050s and 1 m by the end of this century. SLR is a concern for normal transportation activities but is particularly important under evacuation conditions when part of the network may be unavailable due to storm surge. The goals of this project are to: (1) understand how SLR impacts flooding, and in turn how this flooding impacts evacuation demand and performance and network connectivity, capacity, and vulnerability; (2) develop and apply a resilience assessment methodology for coastal areas; and (3) identify appropriate climate change adaptation strategies, evaluate their impacts on resilience and evacuation performance, and evaluate trade-offs among different strategies. Dr. Irish and her team provide critical inputs to the other investigators. They will use the well-known ADCIRC hydrodynamic model to simulate surge at high resolution and accuracy for three synthetic hurricanes under three SLR scenarios: present-day, 0.3 m, and 1.0 m. The synthetic storms (track, intensity, size, etc.) will be selected to (1) represent plausible hurricane conditions in the study area and (2) produce either large localized or moderate widespread flooding in the study area. Peak surge arrival will be assumed to coincide with high spring tide (worst case). Model outputs will include time series of flood elevation and wind speed at high spatial resolution throughout the study area. Taking flood elevations, Drs. Rakha and El-Shawarby will conduct microscopic simulation to identify the impacts on capacities of individual links. These capacity changes will be inputs to network performance measures used in Dr. Murray-Tuite's and Dr. Smith's analyses. These capacity reductions also affect the multi-day evacuation demand, which Dr. Murray-Tuite will modify based on her existing datasets. This demand will be used by both Dr. Murray-Tuite and Dr. Rakha's teams. Drs. Murray-Tuite and Rakha will work together to identify appropriate evacuation models and tie their respective mesoscopic and microscopic models together to provide higher resolution modeling at critical points as well as "bigger picture" performance measures. For example, one could evaluate a large number of scenarios using a mesoscopic approach and reduce them to a more limited number of scenarios. A microscopic approach can then be used to select the optimum strategy from this subset. Evacuation demand will also be modified based on climate change adaptation strategies identified by Dr. Smith. In previously completed research, Dr. Smith's team has applied an FHWA developed conceptual model for understanding the ramifications of climate change on the transportation infrastructure. Based on the identification and prioritization of risks, this research will investigate necessary adaptation to address high priority risks. These adaptations will affect the future network configuration and capacity, which will provide "alternative futures" that can be evaluated in the analyses by Dr. Murray-Tuite's and Dr. Rakha's teams. The potential implementation of project outcomes and guidance on adaptation strategies can be used by departments of transportation (DOTs) and planning agencies methods can be transferred to other areas. Dr. Murray-Tuite will also lead the development of vulnerability and resilience analysis methods with significant collaboration from Drs. Irish, Rakha, El-Shawarby, and Smith as well as the PIs of competitive research projects under this general topic. Many of the benefits listed below could result in better evacuation plans, which help mitigate the risk to human lives during hurricanes. Improved understanding of the effects of sea level rise and storm surge on network availability during hurricane scenarios and the understanding of how sea level rise and storm surge will affect hurricane evacuations are presented. Understanding of potential adaptation strategies and their impacts on resilience, network vulnerability, and evacuation metrics and the understanding of the trade-offs among climate change adaptation strategies are also presented. Webinars will be held where each group spends about 30 minutes on research progress and findings. DOT representatives will be invited and the webinars will be recorded for later viewing.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    University of Virginia, Charlottesville

    Charlottesville, VA  United States 

    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg

    Blacksburg, VA  United States  24061

    Office of Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    Office of Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Parkany, Emily

  • Performing Organizations:

    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg

    Blacksburg, VA  United States  24061

    University of Virginia, Charlottesville

    Charlottesville, VA  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    El-Shawarby, Ihab

    Smith, Brian

    Rakha, Hesham

    Murray-Tuite, Pamela

  • Start Date: 20141001
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20160630
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37247

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01566136
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Mid-Atlantic Transportation Sustainability Center
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT13-G-UTC33
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Jun 11 2015 1:01AM