Strategies for Incorporating Resilience into Transportation Networks

ver the past 25 years, the global goods movement system has suffered from many large-scale disruptions such as the 2011 Japanese tsunami that crippled worldwide auto manufacturing or the 2010 Iceland volcanic eruptions that affected millions of travelers and thousands of time-sensitive shipments. Unfortunately, these incidents appear to be increasing in both severity and frequency, as illustrated by the 2017 hurricane season. Over this same period, longer and more complex supply chain management techniques such as just-in-time/just enough production, inventory, and distribution systems have created demands for more reliable and resilient delivery systems that, in turn, depend on a reliable and resilient multi-modal freight transportation infrastructure. Disruptions to this system, especially to critical components, can cause significant economic damage to companies, local communities, and increasingly to national and global interests. Moreover, increased interconnectedness and interdependencies between companies have introduced new risks and result in greater economic damages. For example, a recent Accenture study estimated that significant supply chain disruptions reduced the share price of affected companies by as much as seven percent. Not surprisingly, companies worldwide see better protection, reliability, and resilience of their supply chains as a major priority. NCHRP Report 732: Methodologies to Estimate the Economic Impacts of Disruptions to the Goods Movement System described the impacts of bottlenecks and interruptions to the flow of goods through the nation’s freight system, the dynamics of that flow in response to disruptions, and the full economic impact on public and private freight interests. Although the project explored the feasibility of developing a high-level and more detailed level methodology for assessing the economic impacts of disruptions to freight networks, the researchers indicated that it would be very useful to further develop their approach by including the economic impacts due to varying degrees of resiliency (i.e., the amount of time and effort necessary to recover or restore supply chains from a significant disruption), particularly of the publicly funded transportation infrastructure. Transportation network resiliency is one of the most important aspects of determining the ultimate economic impact of a disruption. The degree to which a network (i.e., infrastructure) can bounce back from a significant disruption (generally defined as >96 hours) is directly related to the level of economic impact. If a rail line that is disrupted can be restored or traffic diverted in a short period of time, the economic impact is likely to be not as great as a disrupted line that causes weeks of delay. The concept of resiliency, and how it relates to economic impact and the strategies for incorporating resiliency in networks, is an important topic in the broader investigation of economic impacts of network disruptions. The fundamental problem is this: public sector infrastructure managers are often unaware of the supply chain requirements of their users and the impact their resilient-related decisions have on multiple supply chains while supply chain managers have little opportunity to influence public infrastructure reliability and resilience investment decisions. The economic implications of this disconnect are profound. Transport services are protected, restored, or enhanced using “worst first” approaches, often without regard for supply chain impacts. Related to the previous issue, research would be useful in identifying the costs and benefits of different investment strategies to enhance the reliability, resiliency and cost efficiency of multi-modal freight networks. What strategies make the most sense given the different magnitudes of economic costs to likely disruptions? What are the benefits of implementing such strategies? What are the costs associated with this implementation? The objective of this project is to develop and apply a conceptual model and guidelines for linking supply chain economic (i.e., cost efficiency) impacts (i.e., risk, benefit) with transportation infrastructure investment decisions affecting network resilience. This unified resilience model should encompass port, project, corridor, regional and statewide scales.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $600000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-125

  • 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:

    Goldstein, Lawrence

  • Start Date: 20180619
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01672556
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-125
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Jun 18 2018 3:03PM