Rapid and cost-effective rehabilitation alternatives for transportation infrastructure affected by extreme conditions

As a result of climate change, existing transportation infrastructure is being affected by unprecedented extreme weather/climate events such as wildfires. Proper planning for potential risk mitigation alternatives could help increase the resilience of the transportation network by decreasing the recovery time and disruptions to the community. However, due to the uncertainty of extreme events and limited budgets, it is a challenge for state departments of transportation (DOTs) to preemptively decide and prioritize among mitigation options and execute them in a timely manner after an event. This study will provide methods to quantify, manage and decrease the vulnerability of transportation infrastructure - specifically bridges and drainages - to wildfires. The specific objectives of this study are to: (1) Identify post-wildfire flash flood impacts, and risk mitigation and rehabilitation alternatives for bridges and drainages, (2) Evaluate sensitivity of hydrology model to site-specific input data and identify transportation infrastructure components at risk, (3) Estimate life-cycle cost and implementation time of mitigation and rehabilitation alternatives, and (4) Develop a decision-support tool for prioritizing and deciding among rehabilitation options. The decision support tool will result in the selection of cost-effective mitigation/rehabilitation options. The proposed framework combines the use of geographic information systems (GIS), hydraulics model, life-cycle cost assessment and optimization, and will incorporate current watershed and soil conditions. The system will take into account the characteristics and criticality of the bridges and drainages, the type of rehabilitation alternative (e.g., permanent vs. temporary), characteristics of rehabilitation and mitigation alternatives (including advantages and challenges), and additional factors identified throughout the study. The framework will also incorporate the use of the “Climate Change & Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework” from the Federal Highway Administration. The results can be immediately implemented through the decision support tool, which can be used by decision-makers to manage and reduce the risks associated with fires. Additionally, a report on post-wildfire mitigation and rehabilitation best practices will be produced.