The National Academies

NCHRP 20-127 [Final]

Business Case and Communications Strategies for State DOT Resilience Efforts

  Project Data
Funds: $349,618
Research Agency: Cambridge Systematics, Inc.
Effective Date: 12/15/2020
Completion Date: 2/15/2023

NCHRP Web Only Document 385: Business Case and Communications Strategies for State DOT Resilience Efforts presents strategies and tools that are essential for demonstrating, communicating, and gaining support for integrating resilience into transportation decisions and investment. The report and associated tools were developed based on extensive literature, and analysis of business cases for investing in resilience. The report is designed for immediate use by state departments of transportation and other transportation agencies to make effective business cases for resilience investments and deploy effective communication strategies to inform various audiences. 

Significant research has been conducted on many different aspects of system resilience and security, but research is lacking on the topics of (1) how state transportation officials can make a business case for investing in resilience strategies and (2) resilience-oriented communications strategies. Communication strategies are central to successful balloting of state and local funding initiatives. This project is focused on both the "hard" technical business cases and the arguably "harder" communications strategies applicable to the general public as well as governors, legislators, staff and leadership at state departments of transportation (DOTs), and regional transportation planning organizations.

The 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Pub. L. No. 114-94) included several requirements for transportation agencies that reflected an increasing concern for system and operational resilience and security. For example, statewide and metropolitan transportation planning processes were to consider projects/strategies to improve the resilience and reliability of the transportation system. It continued all prior National Highway Performance Program (NHPP) eligibilities and added (among four new eligible categories) one for projects to reduce the risk of failure of critical NHS infrastructure (defined to mean a facility, the incapacity or failure of which would have a debilitating impact in certain specified areas). The FAST Act keeps in place a resilience provision introduced in 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which required state DOTs to develop risk-based asset management plans.

State DOTs are addressing resilience issues in concert with local and regional organizations, including governments, planning organizations, non-profits, and the business community. In order to identify effective business case and communications strategies for state DOT resilience efforts, it is key to acknowledge the different demographics, infrastructure, and resource capabilities of each state DOT and agency, as well as the differing resilience opportunities and challenges they face. In addition, some state DOTs and local and regional transportation agencies have begun and achieved robust resilience activities. It is apparent that system resilience is becoming an ever more important concern for transportation officials at all levels of government.

Under NCHRP Project 20-127, Cambridge Systematics, Inc. was asked to develop resources for state DOTs and other transportation organizations to help them explain the value of investing in resilience throughout the life cycle of planning, engineering, design, operations, construction, and maintenance activities.

In addition to the conduct of the research report that is available as NCHRP Web-Only Document 385: Business Case and Communications Strategies for State DOT Resilience Efforts, supplemental deliverables are available to download here. These deliverables are:

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