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Climate Change Vulnerability and Risk Assessment

    In 2010, a partnership of New Jersey state agencies and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (the “New Jersey Partnership”) was awarded a grant from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to conduct a Vulnerability and Risk Assessment of transportation infrastructure from the impacts of climate change. The primary objective of this project is to pilot FHWA’s Vulnerability and Risk Assessment Conceptual Model using New Jersey as a case study, providing feedback for the advancement of the Conceptual Model as well as develop a greater awareness and understanding of the potential effects of climate change on transportation infrastructure in New Jersey. Based on the feedback received through this and the four other pilot projects funded across the United States, FHWA will revise and finalize the Conceptual Model for application nationwide.


    Interagency Participants

    The project was led by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA), which was supported by an interagency partnership (NJ Partnership), including:

    • New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT)

    • New Jersey Transit (NJ TRANSIT)

    • New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)

    • Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC)

    • South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO)

    • New Jersey State Climatologist



    The Conceptual Risk Assessment Model was developed to assist transportation agencies in identifying infrastructure at risk for exposure to climate change stressors and determining which threats carry the most significant consequences. The project work encompassed three main steps:

    1. Developed an inventory of relevant assets and ranked level of criticality from low to extreme based on their roles in connecting critical destinations;

    2. Gathered information on potential future climate scenarios, including the magnitude and likelihood of change due to the following six climate stressors:

      • Sea level rise,

      • Storm surge

      • Extreme temperatures and temperature ranges,

      • Extreme precipitation and average precipitation levels,

      • Drought,

      • Inland flooding; and

    3. Assessed the potential vulnerability and resilience of transportation assets starting with the most critical assets and the most severe climate stressors the potential vulnerability and resilience of critical assets.

    These three steps were performed for two study areas in New Jersey, each one of which contains key transportation assets within all three New Jersey MPOs’ jurisdictions. One study area focused on coastal NJ, running from the mouth of the Raritan River to the tip of Cape May (Coastal Study Area). The other incorporates much of the Northeast Corridor, and then extends southward along the Delaware River from Trenton to Salem County (Central Study Area).

    For additional information contact Jeffrey Perlman at [email protected].