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MassDOT Statewide Climate Change Adaptation Plan

Phase I – Vulnerability Assessment


MassDOT recognizes the potential threat posed by climate change to the resiliency of the state’s transportation infrastructure over the coming decades and beyond. Preparing our statewide transportation assets to adapt to future climate-related hazards will help prevent infrastructure failure, improve reliability,Image of Roaring River during Hurrican Irene reduce operations and maintenance costs, and improve safety. The project seeks to generate a better understanding of the likelihood and magnitude of global warming impacts on state transportation assets through a climate science informed approach. The results will provide the needed scientific basis for creating an adaptation plan which will identify priorities and lay out corresponding strategies to alleviate significant climate risks at different time scales.

Project Objectives

The study aims to provide a better understanding of which MassDOT’s assets (infrastructure) are most likely to be at risk due to future inland flooding by utilizing the latest climate model results, suitable hydrologic and hydraulic tools, geospatial analysis and scenario planning methods. The potential impact of extreme heat on transportation assets and operations is also investigated qualitatively. In addition, this study is meant to coordinate and integrate with the Highway Division and the MBTA’s ongoing efforts related to climate change and resiliency, such as the Coastal Transportation Asset Vulnerability Assessment and the Deerfield River Watershed Vulnerability Assessment.

Anticipated Products

The project aims to deliver the following outputs:

  • A prototype methodology for estimating future climate-related inland flooding risks and asset vulnerability at the state level
  • Downscaled climate projections for three emission scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5, 6.0 and 8.5) for four future periods (2030, 2050, 2070 and 2100)
    • Projected percent change of 1% annual exceedance probability (AEP) 24-hour precipitation
    • Projected 1% AEP 24-hour precipitation depth
    • Projected annual maximum number of consecutive days > 95°F
    • Projected number of days > 95°F in summer months
  • Future 1% AEP floodplain maps for selected climate scenarios and future periods
  • Risk analysis of MassDOT assets’ potential exposure to future inland flooding
  • High-level synthesis of extreme heat impact on transportation assets and operations
  • A prioritized list of MassDOT assets that are most vulnerable to climate risks for different future time periods
  • A final report describing the study methods, findings, constraints and recommended next steps.

MassDOT intends to release important project products that may be of interest and benefit to other state agencies, public organizations and stakeholders, as these products become available and approved. The down-scaled climate projection maps for the whole state and the report, Assessment of Extreme Temperature Impacts on MassDOT Assets are the first set of completed products.


For more information:
Hongyan (Lily) Oliver
Office of Transportation Planning

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