Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering

First Advisor

Paul Chinowsky

Second Advisor

Bernard Amadei

Third Advisor

Ross Corotis

Abstract

As questions of climate change impacts, adaptation, and policy gain prominence in discussions at the local, national, and international levels, there is opportunity to address many of these challenges in meaningful ways.

The goal of the research presented here is to provide data-driven support to policy makers and practitioners about how, when, and where to prioritize investments in road infrastructure to reduce vulnerability to climate change. The research question that guided this dissertation is, “How can planners and decision-makers incorporate a holistic perspective on future road infrastructure transportation planning with the uncertainties posed by a changing climate?”

A data-driven methodology, including engineering-based stressor response functions to assess climate change impacts were developed. Applying climate change models, these functions were then used to estimate financial and technical costs and benefits of proactive and reactive adaptation investment scenarios for road infrastructure. Finally, the triple bottom line framework for sustainability is used to apply this information alongside environmental and social climate change impact metrics to identify areas for infrastructure investments that should be prioritized based upon a three-pillar approach. GIS is used to synthesize the triple bottom line data and visually display critical geographic areas.

Together, this work presents advances in the knowledge and methods used to address questions of sustainability and climate change in terms of road infrastructure. More broadly, these methods contribute to the discussion about how sustainability can be incorporated into routine decisions by policy makers as well as how climate change impacts can be quantified into information that can be utilized today in decision-making.

While there are many sources of uncertainty in future planning, it is imperative that investments being made today account for potential impacts of climate change, both on the infrastructure elements themselves and the communities which they are designed to serve.

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