National Academies Press: OpenBook

Deploying Transportation Resilience Practices in State DOTs (2021)

Chapter: Chapter 6: CONCLUSIONS

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Page 87
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 6: CONCLUSIONS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Deploying Transportation Resilience Practices in State DOTs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26209.
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Page 87
Page 88
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 6: CONCLUSIONS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Deploying Transportation Resilience Practices in State DOTs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26209.
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Page 88

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87 Chapter 6: CONCLUSIONS This research project examined the concept of transportation system resilience and how an agency could mainstream resilience-related approaches and procedures into its culture. Over the past 15 years, the nation’s transportation systems have experienced numerous significant disruptions that have resulted in economic loss and loss of human life. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic is a recent example of how unexpected events can affect the performance and role of transportation systems. The Resilience Guide and Self-Assessment Tool have identified entry points into some of the key state DOT processes where resilience concerns can be integrated into decision-making. In some cases, recommended strategies can be implemented in the short term. In others, implementation will take longer, perhaps awaiting the results of other technical studies in identifying network vulnerability to system disruptions. The Guide, however, indicates that there are many state DOT decision-making processes where resilience concerns can be integrated substantively throughout the policy, planning, project development, and program delivery processes of a typical state DOT. Some of the key lessons learned from the research are perhaps best summarized by the final speakers at the RISE conference who identified the following common themes. • Agency leadership in fostering a resilience-oriented agency culture is critical. • More state DOTs are starting to consider risk and system resilience. This has occurred in a variety of ways---understanding enterprise risk, using a systems approach, and using asset management as platform for doing so. • It is very important to consider system resilience at the planning level; this is where future risks and vulnerabilities would be logically considered in a systematic way. • A serious concern expressed by agency CEOs was how to fund resilience projects and/or resilience-oriented project add-ons. • State DOT officials noted the importance of partnerships with a range of agencies and organizations …. emergency responders, utility companies, health departments, Tribal Nations, key system users (e.g., freight carriers), media, local government, and many more. • For large-scale disruptions, there is often a need to coordinate with other states. This might have to do with the logistics of bringing in relief supplies and personnel for recovery, or because detour routes extend into other states. • Many resilience strategies and actions come from state and local government. Funding does not have to be a constraint if leaders are creative. Resilience champions can come from all levels of government and from many other groups as well. • Network cascading effects and telecommunications are critical concerns at the local level where much of the interconnection of infrastructure systems occurs. Addressing such concerns often requires the participation of many agencies and companies that are not often involved in transportation decisions. Effective risk mitigation, however, will depend on such participation. • The success of preparing for a very different future than what trends would suggest means many of us need to question the approaches and tools we use today. Planning and engineering

88 need to be more adaptive when designing a project in an area that is likely to be vulnerable to more intense environmental conditions. • Disadvantaged populations should be part of the process in identifying resilience strategies for their communities. For example, evacuation plans need to consider the fact that many households do not have access to an automobile. • Coordination and inclusiveness in the process for identifying potential threats and hazards, and strategies for dealing with them, are critical for success. This means interaction with key decision makers, those who influence transportation policy, and those from sectors outside of transportation but whose own infrastructure influences transportation system performance. • Many believe we need to be talking about a “system of systems” that recognizes the interdependencies among relevant infrastructure and services. This might entail shared responsibilities. • Decisions should be supported with credible analysis that acknowledges uncertainties in projections and assumptions. However, decisions should not be paralyzed because data is not available or expected impacts are not known with great certainty. • From an agency perspective, creating a more resilient culture does not necessarily depend on a “big win.” Many small victories can add up to a significant change in an agency’s approach and outcomes toward system resilience. Be bold! • The focus of many efforts has been on planning----not much implementation. It is time to get proactive!

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