Climate Change - Adapting and Preparing

Resilient Transportation Systems

We maintain and operate the state’s highway system as climate change brings new challenges: damage from extreme storms, sea level rise, and increased wildfire activity. Understanding future climate threats is essential for a safe and sustainable transportation system.

We have completed several studies that help the agency understand these risks to our transportation system and inform projects so they can address potential hazards:

Climate Impacts Vulnerability Assessment Report (pdf 5.56 mb) – WSDOT completed a statewide assessment of climate vulnerability of state-owned transportation assets. This report includes a qualitative assessment of all state highways.

Creating a Resilient Transportation Network in Skagit County: Using Flood Studies to Inform Transportation Asset Management (pdf 13 mb) – This project applied Federal Highways Administration’s (FHWA) framework for adaptation planning and decision making. Our team created a process that helps transportation planners better connect information across sectors (in this case hydraulic data) and coordinate long-term solutions to extreme events.

Climate Change and Innovative Stormwater Control (3.2 mb) – Compares the conceptual climate risk assessment models developed in the United States and Europe for transportation infrastructure. It also provides additional feedback on tools developed by the FHWA. This report is part of an information exchange between WSDOT, FHWA, and Rijkswaterstaat, the highway agency of The Netherlands.


Guidance for planners and project teams

WSDOT considers future climate risks during project design and when preparing long-term plans. We document how climate change and extreme weather vulnerability are considered and propose ways to improve resilience. More information on our guidance is available on our Addressing climate change web page.

WSDOT also considers the greenhouse gas emissions from project. Find more information on how we do this on our Air quality, greenhouse gas, and energy policy and procedures web page.


Additional resources

U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Highways and Climate Change
FHWA provides research on climate change and sustainability issues. FHWA is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Climate Change
This FTA report describes research on transit and climate change, tools for measuring and reducing carbon footprints, and reports on transit-related climate change adaptation actions.

AASHTO, the national association representing highway and transportation departments, provides technical assistance to assist its members in meeting the challenges that arise related to climate change, energy efficiency, energy security, infrastructure adaptation, alternative vehicles and fuels, and other relevant topics.



Carol Lee Roalkvam
WSDOT Environmental Policy Branch Manager