Transportation System Vulnerability and Resilience to Extreme Weather Events and Other Natural Hazards — Final Results of Vulnerability Assessment of National Highway System for All KYTC Districts

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Blandford, Benjamin L.; Schurman, Scott; Wallace, Candice Y.
Kentucky Transportation Center, University of Kentucky
extreme weather; vulnerability assessment; natural hazard; resilience; floods; earthquakes; landslides; sinkholes; Transportation system; National highway system; Transportation Engineering
report description
Recent federal legislation and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have directed state transportation agencies to identify potential vulnerabilities associated with extreme weather events and climate change, develop a risk-based asset management plan, and incorporate findings into transportation planning, design, and maintenance practices. The Kentucky Transportation Center and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet developed and led district-level workshops to elicit local expert knowledge on asset vulnerabilities to natural hazards. Combining the results of these workshops with analysis of available data on assets and hazards, they then performed a natural hazard vulnerability assessment of the state’s National Highway System (NHS) for each of Kentucky’s 12 districts. The four most critical extreme weather and natural hazards are earthquakes, floods, landslides, and sinkholes. NHS assets such as highway segments, bridges, culverts, and other structures (e.g., overpasses) were assessed for risk to these hazards. Researchers used a modified version of the Federal Highway Administration’s Vulnerability Assessment Scoring Tool (VAST). This assessment tool uses an indicator-based approach to assessing vulnerability and promoting resiliency, and results in a vulnerability score for each NHS segment and each hazard type. The output of the assessment process includes a GIS-based data system capable of producing maps that communicate vulnerable locations. Of the 287 NHS segments in Kentucky, 83 were found to have high vulnerability to earthquakes, floods, landslides, or sinkholes.