The National Academies

NCHRP 15-80 [RFP]

Design Guide and Standards for Infrastructure Resilience

Posted Date: 1/6/2021

  Project Data
Funds: $735,000
Contract Time: 38 months
(includes 1 month for NCHRP review and approval of each interim reports and 2 months for NCHRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 6/1/2021 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: C. Crichton-Sumners
   Phone: 202/334-1695
   Email: ccrichton-sumners@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 2/24/2021
Fiscal Year: 2021


Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, convective storms, floods, and wildfires have significant adverse impacts. Sea levels, temperatures, and precipitation patterns are expected to increase in frequency and severity and stress transportation systems, increasing the risk of disruptions, damage, and casualties. Infrastructure planning and design should account for these conditions to minimize impacts, yet this is not adequately addressed in current design standards and guidance.

Translating climate projections and extreme weather data into information usable for project-level design and the development of design specifications is complex. Current design criteria for building and retrofitting transportation infrastructure are generally developed with an implicit assumption that the climate conditions will remain static over the design life. State and federal guidelines and requirements for producing transportation project designs for more resilient transportation assets have increased in recent years. Recognizing the benefits of incorporating resilience into all facets of the project life cycle, many transportation agencies are beginning to conduct engineering-informed adaptation studies and develop ways to formally integrate resilience into the project development process. A number of highly related, recent research projects have been initiated and/or completed by NCHRP and FHWA (see Special Note A). Practitioners need additional assistance evaluating and balancing the potential costs and benefits of incorporating recommended guidance and standards that consider resilience to extreme weather and future climatic conditions in their project development processes.


The objectives of this project are to (1) briefly summarize how extreme weather events, long-term climate changes, and climate resilience impact transportation project delivery, infrastructure life-cycles, and asset management practices; (2) identify current and projected future climate variables to be considered during the design of transportation projects to increase resilience; (3) develop recommendations for updating design processes that include consideration of extreme weather events and increase resilience to climate impacts; and (4) develop a project delivery climate change resilience design guide.


The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objectives. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objectives.

The research plan should: (1) include a kick-off web conference with the NCHRP  project panel convened within 1 month of the contract’s execution; (2) address the manner in which the proposer intends to satisfy the project objectives; (3) be divided logically into detailed tasks that are necessary to fulfill the research objectives and include appropriate milestones and interim deliverables; and (4) incorporate opportunities for the project panel to review, comment, and approve milestone deliverables.

At a minimum, the research plan should incorporate the following tasks.


Task 1. Conduct a review of recent transportation related climate change and resilience research.

Task 2. Identify how risk management principles and techniques are being used in the construction of transportation facilities, and the extent to which they can contribute to resilient design practices that address a range of climate variables.

Task 3. Conduct a review of near-term scientific and engineering state of practice trends within the United States and internationally, identifying how successful practices address challenges related to the use of climate data and incorporation of resilience to extreme events and climate change adaptation in transportation project development and delivery. 

Task 4. Identify transportation agency policies and design standards that already include climate change considerations including adaptation and risk mitigation.

Task 5. Informed by the results of Tasks 1 through 4, identify and assess key factors in infrastructure design that contribute to resilience to projected changes in climate variables, e.g., temperature, precipitation, extreme weather events, and sea-level rise.

Task 6. Describe how the change in mean and extreme weather events, and climate change can be addressed in design processes.

Task 7.  Prepare an Interim Report 1 that documents the work completed in Tasks 1 through 6.


1. Interim Report 1 shall be submitted within 9 months of the project kick-off teleconference.

2. NCHRP approval of Interim Report 1 and the proposed Phase II work plan are required prior to advancing to Phase II.

3. The proposer shall include one in-person meeting with the NCHRP project panel to be convened in Washington, D.C. at TRB offices. NCHRP will be responsible for the costs associated with meetings at TRB facilities, teleconference services, and panel member travel.

Phase II will require at a minimum, the following tasks.


Task 8. Develop a framework for practitioners with different levels of experience to incorporate resilience into the transportation design processes.

Task 9. Develop a resilience design process flow diagram categorized by extreme weather climate stressors and asset classes.

Task 10.  Develop technical requirements for new or revised design standards and specifications that will improve infrastructure resilience to extreme weather, sea level rise, and other effects of climate change.

Task 11.  Identify AASHTO design standards and specifications that should be revised to help improve infrastructure resilience to the effects of extreme weather, and climate change.

Task 12. Host a 2 day workshop, virtually if necessary, for transportation practitioners to seek input on the framework, process flow diagrams, and technical requirements and standards developed in Tasks 8 through 11.

Task 13. Based on the feedback received during the workshop and the findings thus far, revise the practitioner’s framework, flow charts, and technical requirements.

Task 14. Prepare an interim report that documents the work completed in Tasks 8-13.


1. The costs for the workshop, including invitational travel for up to 75 attendees, shall be included in the detailed budget for the research. The contractor will be responsible for the reimbursement of travel costs of attendees. The workshop shall be convened at a TRB facility. NCHRP will cover costs associated with the meeting spaces and NCHRP panel travel.

2. NCHRP approval of Interim Report 2 and the proposed Phase III work plan are required prior to advancing to Phase III.

3. The proposer shall include a virtual meeting with the NCHRP project panel to discuss Interim Report 2. NCHRP will be responsible for the costs associated with teleconference services.

Phase III will require at a minimum, the following tasks.


Task 15. Develop recommendations for changes to AASHTO design standards and specifications in a format suitable for consideration by relevant AASHTO committees.

Task 16. Develop matrices of impacts to infrastructure from climate changes (i.e., flooding, temperatures, wind loads, etc.) for infrastructure assets (i.e., culverts, roads, bridges), considering asset life-cycles.

Task 17. Develop a resilience design guide for practitioners. Consideration should be given, but not limited to, the following items or concepts.

  • Climate change resilience experience level within transportation agencies
  • Geographic weather diversity in the United States
  • Temporary costs due to extreme weather events
  • Pavement design, geometric design, and bridge design
  • Project categorization such as rehabilitation, new construction, or retrofit
  • Pre-design and design project delivery tasks
  • Variation in engineering definitions related to extreme and design events
  • Continuously updating design processes using future climate data
  • Opportunity costs for avoidance, risk mitigation, and tolerance for project selection and construction
  • Nature-based resilience related to adaptation and design related risk mitigation
  • Identification of sustainability co-benefits
  • Coincident extreme events or event cascades
  • Intensity, frequency, and duration of events

Task 18. Prepare final deliverables that fulfill the research objectives and include at a minimum, the following:

1. A final report documenting the entire research effort including an executive summary and prioritized recommendations for future research;

2. Climate change resilience design guide that shall include a framework for practitioners; resilience design process flow diagram; and matrices of life-cycle impacts and damage risks for infrastructure assets;

3. Recommended changes to AASHTO design standards in a format suitable for consideration by relevant AASHTO committees;

4. A presentation of findings to two AASHTO committees or councils concerned with climate change;

5. A PowerPoint presentation, suitable for a webinar, describing the background, objectives, research approach, findings, and conclusions; and

6. A stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note E for additional information).

Proposers may recommend additional deliverables to support the project objectives.

Note: Following receipt of the draft final deliverables, the remaining 3 months shall be for NCHRP review and comment and for research agency preparation of the final deliverables.


A. Proposers are encouraged to become familiar with the following anticipated or ongoing studies and to take them into account when developing the proposed research plan in order to minimize the potential for duplication of effort: 

NCHRP Synthesis 527: Resilience in Transportation Planning, Engineering, Management, Policy, and Administration

NCHRP Project 15-61: “Applying Climate Change Information to Hydrologic and Hydraulic Design of Transportation Infrastructure” is developing a national design guide to provide hydraulic engineers with the tools needed to account for climate change.

NCHRP Project 15-61A: “Updates to the Design Practices Guide for Applying Climate Change Information to Hydrologic and Coastal Design of Transportation Infrastructure”

NCHRP Project 20-44(23): “Pilot Test of Climate Change Design Practices Guide for Hydrology and Hydraulics”

TRB Special Report 329: Renewing the National Commitment to the Interstate Highway System: A Foundation for the Future

FHWA-HEP-17-082: Synthesis of Approaches for Addressing Resilience in Project Development

NCHRP Research Report 938: Incorporating the Costs and Benefits of Adaptation Measures in Preparation for Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change—Guidebook 

NCHRP 20-59 (54): “Transportation System Resilience: Research Roadmap and White Papers”

NCHRP 20-59(55): “Transportation System Resilience: CEO Primer & Engagement”

NCHRP Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 2: Climate Change, Extreme Weather Events, and the Highway System: Practitioner’s Guide and Research Report

NCHRP Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 4: Sustainability as an Organizing Principle for Transportation Agencies

NCHRP Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 7: Preservation, Maintenance, and Renewal of Highway Infrastructure

B. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs were modified in November 2020 to include maximum file size and page limits for all CRP proposals. Proposals must be submitted as a single PDF file with a maximum file size of 10 MB. The PDF must be formatted for standard 8 ½” X 11” paper, and the entire proposal must not exceed 60 pages (according to the page count displayed in the PDF). Proposals that do not meet these requirements will be rejected. For other requirements, refer to Chapter V of the instructions.

C. Item 4 of the proposal, the Research Plan, shall not exceed 20 pages, in 12-point font or larger. Item 5 of the proposal shall be limited to 2 pages of biographical information for each person.

D. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the brochure, "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (
http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/crp/docs/ProposalPrep.pdf). Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.

E. The NCHRP is a practical, applied research program that produces implementable products addressing problems faced by transportation practitioners and managers. The benefits of NCHRP research are realized only when the results are implemented in state DOTs and other agencies. Implementation of the research product must be considered throughout the process, from problem statement development to research contract and beyond completion of the research. Item 4(c), "Anticipated Research Results," must include the following: (a) the "product" expected from the research, (b) the audience or "market" for this product, (c) a realistic assessment of impediments to successful implementation, and (d) the institutions and individuals who might take leadership in deploying the research product. The project panel will develop and maintain an implementation plan throughout the life of the project. The research team will be expected to provide input to an implementation team consisting of panel members, AASHTO committee members, the NCHRP Implementation Coordinator, and others in order to meet the goals of NCHRP Active Implementation: Moving Research into Practice, available at

F. Proposals are evaluated by the NCHRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively very knowledgeable in the problem area. Selection of an agency is made by the project panel considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities.

Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 11 of the proposal.

G. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.

Proposals should be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/IJvBh6IldLfkSuAxmSp6  
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 2/24/2021.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected.

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered statement in order for TRB to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a fillable PDF version of the Liability Statement. A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at https://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals". Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section V for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.

5. Potential proposers should understand that follow-on activities for this project may be carried out through either a contract amendment modifying the scope of work with additional time and funds, or through a new contract (via sole source, full, or restrictive competition).

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