delware environmental institute

Transportation planning research addresses pre- and post-Sandy climate change adaptations

Transportation planning research addresses pre- and post-Sandy climate change adaptations

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the East Coast of the United States, leaving in its wake flattened dunes, chewed-up boardwalks, washed-out roads, twisted carnival rides, tangled power lines, sodden furniture and toppled cabanas. Scenes from Sandy were all the evidence needed to convince many metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) that it was time to integrate climate change into the long-range planning process.

“MPOs throughout the U.S. have begun to identify goals and strategies to reduce the impacts of climate change through transportation adaptation initiatives,” says the University of Delaware’s Sue McNeil. “Evaluating the state-of-the-practice of adaptation planning and adaptation in support of mitigation is useful in that it helps identify gaps and areas for improvement.”

In 2014, McNeil and Michelle Oswald Beiler, who earned her doctorate in civil engineering at UD in 2011 and now teaches at Bucknell University, found themselves in the perfect position to assess the impact of Sandy on this type of planning.

Earlier in 2012, they had surveyed MPOs in the Mid-Atlantic region regarding their climate change adaptation practices as well as what they viewed as barriers to implementing these practices.