WATCH: Caltrans Statewide Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

WATCH: Caltrans Statewide Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment


WSP USA worked closely with Caltrans to develop a study assessing climate impacts on the State Highway System and is continuing this work by prioritizing assets for further study.

Thursday, August 19, 2021 - 10:30am

CAMPAIGN: WSP | Climate, Resilience & Sustainability

CONTENT: Multimedia with summary

Raging wildfires currently devastating the West Coast are a grim reminder of one of the vulnerabilities in the region intensified by climate change; impacting daily life and highlighting uncertainties of the reliability of critical highway infrastructure in the region.

To prepare for climate hazards and establish more resilient, sustainable transportation infrastructure, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) completed a statewide climate change vulnerability assessment for the California State Highway System. The study, which was performed by WSP USA in collaboration with Caltrans, evaluated all 12 Caltrans districts.

“The purpose of the study was to assess how climate hazards could change over the coming century and present physical risks to the State Highway System,” said Mike Flood, project manager for WSP USA. “The process introduced a range of technical processes that had to be tailored to California and transportation engineering needs. This data effort alone was the first – and only – one of its kind to date.” 

WSP evaluated future projections for five main climate hazards: temperature rise, wildfire, changes to precipitation, sea level rise and storm surge. The study identified areas along the highway that could be exposed to these stressors.

“We considered how these changes may affect highway design,” added Annika Ragsdale, report development lead for WSP USA. “For example, pavement design is based in part on high and low temperatures. So, as temperatures rise, inputs to design should change along with them, rather than continue to be based off historical temperatures.”


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CATEGORY: Environment