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The National Academies

NCHRP 20-44(41) [Anticipated]

Deploying Transportation Resilience Practices in State DOTs: Implementation
[ NCHRP 20-44 (NCHRP Implementation Support Program) ]

  Project Data
Source: AASHTO Committee on Transportation System Security and Resilience (CTSSR)
Funds: $180,000
Staff Responsibility: Stephan A. Parker
Fiscal Year: 2021

Lead state and other participating organizations or agencies:  Meg Pirkle), Hawaii DOT (Contact: Genevieve Sullivan), Delaware DOT (Contact: Jim Pappas), and Minnesota DOT (Contact: Tim Sexton)
  
Do you have a commitment from all parties that will be involved in this effort? Yes
  
In-kind or other contributions from participating agencies: Agreement to host workshop for piloting Resilience Guidebook (estimated state DOT host staff hours: 15 to 20 per workshop).
  

Progress of the NCHRP project to date: Project has been completed and final report/guidebook has been published. The current guidebook is approximately100 pages long with many tables and linkages to other parts of the assessment process.  Upgrading the guidebook to a downloadable application would greatly enhance the usefulness of the guidebook (discussed below).

  

Implementation activities planned: A major product of the project is a self-assessment guidebook on incorporating resilience concepts into state DOT activities and decision-making. The guidebook covers all major functional units in a DOT and leads to the identification of strategies for enhancing its resilience efforts. Specific implementation activities include:
  • Pilot workshops (4): The workshops will focus on a guidebook tool that will be developed prior to holding the workshops (the cost of making the guidebook user friendly and as a downloadable program has been allocated across the four workshops).  The workshop would cover the basic concepts underlying the guidebook and will allow different DOT staff to use the program to assess their current resilience status and to identify DOT strategies. The tool would be sent to the DOT prior to the workshop. We would get a commitment from the DOT to have relevant staff use the tool for the functional area they are responsible for. During the workshop, we would work through the results for each functional area and determine action steps to enhance resilience for that area. At the end of the first part of the workshop, the participants as a group will be asked to assess the usefulness and value of the tool. At the end of the workshop, a meeting will be held with the top executives of the agency to go over the strategies that were identified by their staff. The result would be recommended state DOT-wide resilience enhancement program. Note that the pilot states were selected for their diversity in resilience challenges as well as geographic diversity.
  • Development of an implementation document describing the experiences of the four pilot studies. This document would be formatted to be easily understood, highlighting the benefits of using of the guidebook (and downloadable program). The benefits as described by the pilot state DOTs would be highlighted: Presentations would be made to the CTSSR and others as directed by the Committee.

Anticipated completion date of the implementation activities:  March 1, 2022

Describe how these activities will facilitate implementation of the research findings: The proposed activities will facilitate research implementation in several ways. First, it will make the guidebook more easily used and comprehensible to DOT staff. Second, it will show how the guidebook can be used in a real DOT environment and the benefits of doing so. Third, the final document will be used to market the guidebook and downloadable program to other DOTs and transportation agencies in other levels of government. As noted above, this final document will highlight the benefits of the guidebook as defined by the pilot DOT officials.

  

Describe how the success of these activities will be tracked, measured, and reported back to NCHRP: The pilot workshops will each have an evaluation report prepared with input from the host state. Overall, the success of the overall effort will be measured by the number of downloads of the guidebook program. This will provide a direct measure of interest. In addition, presentations will be made to AASHTO committees and at AASHTO meetings as desired by the CTSSR to disseminate the results of the pilot studies and implement the marketing strategy. These efforts will be reported to NCHRP as part of the implementation strategy.

 

Implementation Plan from Final Report

 

The Resilience Guidebook and Self-Assessment Tool is designed to provide transportation officials with a capability to identify and implement actions and strategies to enhance their agency’s resilience-related capabilities. As such, it provides an approach to overcome some of the implementation challenges noted earlier. However, efforts still need to be made to discuss the availability of the tool, provide an exposure to how it can be used, and overview the types of strategies that could be considered by transportation officials. Such efforts could be undertaken by numerous organizations, including AASHTO, TRB, FHWA, the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO), and the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC).

The initial challenge is getting top leadership interested and committed, especially with all the other demands on their time. Therefore, a key to successful implementation is cultivating the active engagement of a core group of state DOT CEOs and career agency leaders who become advocates for resilience actions and can convey the benefits of such an approach to their counterparts.

Second, many state DOTs tend to look toward to the leading edge of practice before deciding whether to move in the same direction and at the same pace. There is a natural tendency of wanting others to “take the first step,” particularly in areas that are still relatively new to an organization. By highlighting leading states via future peer exchanges, newsletter articles and even national recognition awards (from AASHTO and FHWA), one can establish which states are leading examples of a culture of resilience, with systems-oriented, integrated readiness to respond to threats. Doing this requires the commitment of agencies and organizations that support peer exchanges and for presence at the national level (AASHTO, FHWA, and TRB).

Third, as with most topics in transportation, the concepts associated with resilience will be changing quite often, as new agencies contribute to the dialogue, and quite frankly, as new disasters focus attention on the importance of having a resilient transportation system. There should thus be a system in place for providing updates on the latest information on resilience strategies (something NTIMC does an excellent job at for incident management). Other examples include AASHTO’s Resilient and Sustainable Transportation Systems (RSTS) technical services programs and its Center for Environmental Excellence.

This component of an implementation strategy could include:

·         Peer exchanges among transportation agencies interested in finding out about best practices

·         Pilot studies on use of the Resilience Guidebook and Self-Assessment Tool

·         Presentation at conferences and annual meetings.

·         Webinars

·         Information dissemination on the Resilience Guidebook and Self-Assessment Tool aimed at target audiences.

 

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