Improving Resilience of Transportation Infrastructure to Hurricane Damage

Infrastructure resilience has become an important topic for North Carolina. Recent hurricanes and other extreme events have caused more than $450 million in damage to the State's transportation infrastructure. In addition to the cost of the infrastructure, the NCDOT spent considerable resources to redesign and repair many elements after each event. A review of the NCDOT records following Hurricane Florence indicates that more than 3,000 disruptions resulted from that event alone. Some of these locations were identical to those damaged during Hurricane Matthew but, the amount of damage was different between the two events, suggesting that DOT strategies were effective. However, detailed quantification of the performance differences have not been completed and thus NCDOT engineers must rely on qualitative and anecdotal evidence as to the effectiveness of various strategies. Though many agencies have studied the topic of infrastructure resilience to extreme events, the literature suggests that the generalizability of their findings is limited because of the contextual sensitivity of the available strategies. In this case, data on the effectiveness of design and repair strategies within the context of North Carolina is required. Thus, research is needed to identify and evaluate the specific elements of the new infrastructure that positively contributed to the improved performance during Hurricane Florence and those that did not positively contribute. With respect to this need, the proposed research plan will achieve four objectives; 1) evaluate the design process for roadway infrastructure that was repaired following Hurricanes Matthew and Florence, 2) identify the specific elements of the new infrastructure that positively contributed to improved performance during Hurricane Florence, and 3) develop recommendations on design elements that improve the resilience of NCDOT roadways. These objectives will be met with five tasks. (1) The relevant literature on resilient infrastructure and practices for ensuring transportation infrastructure resilience to extreme events will be reviewed and documented. (2) Locations where roadway infrastructure failed during Hurricanes Matthew and Florence will be identified, mapped, and compared. (3) The performance of different maintenance, repair, and reconstruction strategies deployed in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew will be evaluated and quantitatively assessed. (4) A series of detailed case studies will be performed to identify the design factors and repair/maintenance decisions that led to better performance during Hurricane Florence. (5) A final report summarizing the methodology, results, and recommendations will be prepared The primary outcome of the proposed research will be data on the effectiveness of design strategies used to repair infrastructure following hurricanes specifically and extreme events in general. This knowledge can be helpful to improve the design and repair methodologies to be more robust and resilient against future extreme events. The research will also produce a set of guidelines and recommendations for hydraulic design, repair, and reconstruction that may improve the resiliency of roadway design in North Carolina. The guidelines that results from this research will allow NCDOT engineers to deploy design strategies that are proven to be cost effective in the long run. For example, the primary focus of engineers after the event is restoring mobility. For some cases, once this mobility is restored it may be cost effective to redesign or reconstruct a more robust design so that future events do also cause disruptions. This work will provide evidence as to when and how such major repairs can be effective. The proposed work is significant because it will provide quantified evidence as to the efficacy of existing strategies to provide this long-term effectiveness. Ultimately, the deployment of these strategies can reduce agency costs while also improving roadway resilience to extreme events.

    Project

    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $250297
    • Contract Numbers:

      RP2021-08

    • Sponsor Organizations:

      North Carolina Department of Transportation

      Research and Development
      1549 Mail Service Center
      Raleigh, NC  United States  27699-1549
    • Managing Organizations:

      North Carolina Department of Transportation

      Research and Development
      1549 Mail Service Center
      Raleigh, NC  United States  27699-1549
    • Project Managers:

      Kadibhai, Mustan

    • Performing Organizations:

      North Carolina State University

      Raleigh, NC  United States  Campus Box 7908
    • Principal Investigators:

      Underwood, B

      Montoya, B.

    • Start Date: 20210101
    • Expected Completion Date: 20221231
    • Actual Completion Date: 20221231
    • USDOT Program: Operations Concept Validation and Infrastructure Evolution
    • USDOT Program: Research and Development
    • Subprogram: pavement maintenance
    • Subprogram: Research

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01768207
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: North Carolina Department of Transportation
    • Contract Numbers: RP2021-08
    • Files: RiP, STATEDOT
    • Created Date: Mar 25 2021 2:06PM