Resilient Design and Construction of Transportation Infrastructure
Powerful coastal storms and hurricanes are a frequent occurrence in North Carolina, and they can have devastating impacts on the State’s transportation infrastructure. When Hurricane Matthew struck in 2016, for example, one section of I-95 was closed for over three weeks because the road was washed out due to flooding, and some roads in the Outer Banks frequently wash out during severe coastal events. More recently, storm surge and wind damage from Hurricane Isaias caused some temporary closures on State-maintained roads. To help alleviate these and other similar impacts to the state’s transportation system going forward, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) chose to take a proactive approach and look at ways to design and build more resilient infrastructure that is better able to withstand extreme weather events that are likely to be more frequent and intense in the future.
The NCDOT approached Weston & Sampson to advise them on how resiliency can be integrated into their ongoing planning and design projects. NCDOT feels that it would be more prudent and less costly to spend money ahead of time to design resilient infrastructure, such as raising the grade on critical highways and railroad beds, than spending more money to repair the damage after it has occurred. To help them attain their goals, Weston & Sampson is serving as their owner’s representative to advise on climate change vulnerability and/or resiliency-related projects or any project in which climate resiliency considerations need to be addressed. We are assisting NCDOT by reviewing design criteria being used for proposed/upcoming projects across the State, developing resiliency design criteria and guidelines for transportation projects, and assisting in updating relevant design standards and criteria that are futuristic and based on the most recent climate change projections for the State.
Collaboration between NCDOT and Weston & Sampson will help provide a future State transportation system that is more resilient to extreme weather events such as wind-driven storms, hurricanes, and very heavy rainfall events that are expected to intensify and be more frequent due to climate change. The Department’s efforts will mitigate the impacts of these extreme events on the transportation infrastructure, which will have cascading benefits to other infrastructure, buildings, and communities and help increase overall resiliency and preparedness efforts of the State.