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Posted on: July 2, 2019

Emerging Planning Issue: Transportation Resiliency Defined

image of a bridge with a colorful sky in the background

Two words in transportation planning being used with much frequency are “adaptation” and “resiliency.” At first glance, those words may seem to have similar meaning, but it is crucial to understand the difference especially as they relate to transportation assets.

Resilient California, also known as SB 379, requires goals, policies and objectives for communities based on vulnerability assessments and implementation measures be incorporated into general plans as they are updated. On the regional level, federal and state guidance for Regional Transportation Plans (RTPs) require that resiliency and adaptation be explicitly addressed in the long-range plan.  From the 2017 RTP guidelines: “MPOs should begin to address climate change adaptation in their long-range transportation plans in collaboration with State Agencies, as transportation infrastructure projects that do not consider the impacts of climate may not be eligible to receive state funds.”  

Beyond these new requirements, rates of extreme weather events are both tangible and highly visible. Recent science shows that temperatures are increasing, rainfall is more erratic, and the change in weather patterns is becoming more frequent and intense. Ensuring that our transportation system and infrastructure can withstand these events and even thrive afterwards is more important now than ever and planning in this capacity is crucial to the safety of our San Joaquin County communities. Our county has several assets that are impacted yearly by extreme weather, some of those include our levees, our transit systems, our roads, and our freeways.

According to Caltrans, benefits of resiliency mitigation and adaptation may include:

  • lower pollutant emissions,
  • longer service life of transportation assets,
  • reduced costs and need for weather-related maintenance,
  • improved safety, and
  • improved ecosystem resiliency and health.

Adaptation and resiliency planning seeks to identify infrastructure vulnerable to disruptions due to extreme weather events. In planning for these disruptions, it is important to determine the risks and consequences of current weather patterns and trends and propose investment priorities to address the identified risks. In this second in the series of emerging policy issue briefings leading to the 2022 RTP, staff will:

  • Detail local, state, and federal requirements for future planning
  • Provide an overview of existing adaptation planning efforts in the region and beyond
  • Discuss the progress made and draft reports from SJCOG’s current Adaptation and Resiliency Study (see graphic at right)
  • Seek input from committees and SJCOG Board on a future Phase 2 study funded by a recently awarded Caltrans competitive Adaptation Planning Grant

The phase one study seeks to define future risks and consequences and develop, through both our working group and regional summit, recommendations on the best course of action to address resiliency and adaptation in San Joaquin County.  The phase two study develops the work currently underway into risk assessment tools and an implementation guide to inform future policies for the 2022 RTP and assist local agencies in meeting their SB379 and other planning requirements.  The policy briefing packet provides additional detail.

View the Policy Briefing Packet
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