The National Academies

NCHRP 08-129 [Active]

Incorporating Resilience Concepts and Strategies in Transportation Planning

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Staff Responsibility: Lawrence D. Goldstein
Research Agency: AEM Corporation
Principal Investigator: Maria Pena
Effective Date: 9/16/2020
Completion Date: 3/9/2022

Transportation systems are vulnerable to natural and human-caused hazards, such as climate change, terrorism, economic and demographic changes, cyberattacks, and other events—all in the context of limited financial resources. These events and trends can result in unanticipated transportation system disruptions and increasing constraints on existing infrastructure, impeding access to reliable mobility for people and goods. Given the increasing risk, it is critical to design or modify transportation systems to be adaptive, investing in strategic resilience planning and implementation in advance of events (shocks or stressors). 

While state departments of transportation (DOTs) understand the importance of incorporating resilience planning into transportation decision-making, the state of the practice varies. For example, studies from Oregon, Colorado, and Utah illustrate how corridor-based resilience planning provided direction to project design, continued operations, and maintenance. Other state DOTs, such as the Michigan DOT and Florida DOT, are examining how resilience concepts could be included in statewide transportation planning. A few others, such as Caltrans, are conducting resilience studies through their planning divisions. 

Efforts to address strategies for improving resilience planning are increasing as documented in multiple NCHRP studies, such as NCHRP Project 20-117: Deploying Transportation Resilience Practices in State DOTs and NCHRP Synthesis 527: Resilience in Transportation Planning, Engineering, Management, Policy, and Administration. In addition, FHWA has sponsored efforts that examine the relationship between resilience and transportation planning, illustrating the importance of advancing the practice of integrated planning (FHWA Resilience Resources). 

Guidelines are needed to help state DOTs and other transportation agencies integrate resilience concepts strategically and systematically into the transportation planning process. 


The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook on how state DOTs and other transportation agencies can integrate resilience concepts into transportation planning efforts at all scales of application. 


Proposers are asked to present a detailed research plan for accomplishing the project objectives. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time, including an indication of how proposed research will make use of and build on current requirements and practices. Proposals must demonstrate in sufficient detail an understanding of the issues and a sound approach to meeting the research objectives, including prioritizing critical issues. It should also include a review of other related studies in general and NCHRP research studies in particular. 

The research plan should (1) include a kick-off web conference to review the amplified work plan with the NCHRP project panel, convened within 1 month of the contract’s execution; (2) address how the proposer intends to satisfy the project objective; (3) be divided logically into two phases encompassing specific detailed tasks for each phase that are necessary to fulfill the research objectives, including appropriate milestones and interim deliverables; and (4) incorporate opportunities for the project panel to review, comment on, and approve milestone deliverables.

To meet the objective, the research plan should include a review of examples of state DOT planning and resilience efforts, such as statewide planning, modal planning, asset management planning, and corridor/project planning; it should examine how issues related to resilience could be integrated into transportation planning and decision-making; and it should include a review of resilience planning efforts from other institutions that may be applicable to transportation. It should also build on and complement NCHRP Project 20-117: Deploying Transportation Resilience Practices in State DOTs as well as other research currently underway or recently concluded.

The research plan should delineate the tasks required to integrate resilience planning issues and concepts into overall transportation planning in support of state DOTs and other transportation agencies, considering the following:
  • What are effective strategies for prioritizing planning and investment decisions to improve systemwide resilience;
  • What are the critical decision-making steps in implementing an effective resilience planning strategy;
  • How to identify and plan for effects of natural- and human-caused hazards (shocks and stresses);
  • How to apply risk analysis to help reduce vulnerability;
  • How to identify available data and analytical tools and techniques to facilitate proactive and effective resilience planning;
  • What are the significant gaps in availability of necessary data and analytical tools and techniques and what strategies might be available to fill those gaps;
  • How to integrate resilience planning into existing institutional practices;
  • How can state DOTs help support community resilience efforts; and
  • How to bring all these concerns together for incorporating resilience into state DOT transportation planning and decision-making.
Phase I

Phase I will result in an interim report that describes how to integrate resilience into transportation planning and decision-making. Steps in this phase should include, but not be limited to, the following:
  1. A targeted literature review of known and anticipated issues and practices;
  2. A review of the guidance resulting from NCHRP Project 20-117: Deploying Transportation Resilience Practices in State DOTs; NCHRP Synthesis 527: Resilience in Transportation Planning, Engineering, Management, Policy, and Administration; resilience studies/resources prepared by FHWA; and other relevant studies;
  3. A series of case studies to illustrate current understanding of the resilience issues as well as strategies and approaches to address planning steps integrating resilience planning into overall state transportation planning;
  4. A description of the components of an effective transportation planning program integrating broad-scale resilience issues and requirements, developed in response to the questions described in the overall approach to the research plan:
    • establishing goals and objectives for resilience;
    • conducting vulnerability assessments;
    • identifying and using existing or new tools to support decision-making under uncertainty;
    • expanding the use of data and forecasting probabilities;
    • evaluating workforce needs;
    • establishing procedures to maximize use of existing funding mechanisms;
    • proposing additional procedures to make the business case for resilience; and
    • implementing other innovative approaches to integrate resilience measures into transportation planning and decision-making; and
  5. An annotated outline of the proposed guidebook for state DOTs and other transportation agencies.
The interim report will include a refined scope of work for developing the detailed components of the guidance in Phase II. The panel will meet with the research team at the end of Phase I to review the interim report. NCHRP approval of the interim report is required before proceeding with Phase II. 

Phase II

Work in Phase II will complete development of the guidebook on incorporating resilience into transportation system planning and decision-making. Final deliverables of Phase II will include at a minimum:
  • Detailed guidebook for state DOTs and other transportation agencies defining critical resilience issues and concepts and the steps necessary to incorporate resilience into transportation planning and decision-making (the guidebook will also include results from the case studies);
  • A contractor's final report that documents the entire research effort including recommendations for additional research on applicable procedures, analytical methods, and tools;
  • A stand-alone executive summary that outlines the research findings and recommendations;
  • Communication material aimed at state DOTs and other transportation agencies that explains why the integration approach and supporting guidance are helpful and how they will be applied; and
  • A stand-alone technical memorandum entitled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (See Special Note B).
The research plan includes appropriate checkpoints with the NCHRP project panel including: (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the contract’s execution date; (2) the face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting to be held at the end of Phase I; and (3) at least two additional web-enabled teleconferences tied to NCHRP review and approval of any other interim deliverables as deemed appropriate.

This study is now underway

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