Getting on the Right Track: Real-World Approaches to Climate Change Adaptation

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Getting on the Right Track:  Real-world Approaches to Climate Change Adaptation


March 21-22, 2012


Sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration, in collaboration with the American Public Transportation Association



Workshop Summary: text  pdf



Pilot Presentations






Introductory Remarks: Therese McMillan, Deputy Administrator, FTA



Challenges for Transit and Information and Analysis Required for Decision-making

  • Nat Bottigheimer, Assistant General Manager, Planning and Joint Development, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)
  • Jeffrey Knueppel, Assistant General Manager and Chief Engineer, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)
  • Harriet Tregoning, Director of the Washington DC Office of Planning
  • John MacArthur, Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC)


Framework for using the climate science, conducting adaptation assessments, and experience from New York:

  • Dr. David Major, Senior Research Scientist at Columbia University's Center for Climate Systems Research; Dr. Klaus Jacob, Professor, Columbia University; Projjal Dutta, New York MTA

Results of FEMA study on the effect of climate change on the National Flood Insurance Program and FEMA flood maps: 

  •  Mark Crowell, National Flood Insurance Program,Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA)



Working Session Breakouts 1: Adaptation Tools and How to Use them


Choose 1:


Interactive Risk Assessment - Virginia Room

Participants divide into groups and use a risk assessment matrix to assess climate change risks to a mock transit system based on provided scenario information.   Facilitator: Katie Grasty, FTA.


Demonstration of Mapping Tools – Maryland Room

Learn about, view demonstrations of, and tinker with two climate change mapping tools that enable visualization of climate impacts on communities.  The sea level rise mapping tool from NOAA provides a screening level assessment of sea level rise impacts.  The cost benefit analysis tool from the New England Environmental Finance Center maps climate change damages under “action scenarios” where different adaptation strategies are implemented compared to “no action” scenarios.

·         Sam Merrill, Director, New England Environmental Finance Center

·         Josh Murphy, Coastal Geospatial Services, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association


Strategies for Getting Buy-in and Communicating Climate Change – Washington Room

Learn about communicating effectively about climate change.  Discuss challenges and try out different strategies, frameworks, and messaging.

·         Rachel Healy, WMATA

·         Justin Rolfe-Redding, Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University



Working Session Breakouts 2: Adaptation Tools and How to Use them (same as above)


Conclude Day 1 Workshop Activities. 



Adaptation Pilots: Approaches and initial progress and challenges

·         Tina Hodges, FTA – what FTA hopes to achieve from the pilot projects

·         Becky Lupes, FHWA – lessons learned from FHWA’s five transportation adaptation pilots

·         Jeff Perlman, Principal Planner, New Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA)- New Jersey Climate Adaptation Pilot

·         David Springstead, Senior Director of Engineering & Development, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA)

·         Cris Liban, Environmental Compliance and Services Department Manager, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA)

·         Questions and Answers / Discussion


Roundtable continues

·         Karl Peet, Project Manager, Strategic Planning and Policy, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

·         Any Shatzkin, Sustainability Manager, Sound Transit

·         Linda K. Cherrington, Research Scientist and Program Manager, Texas Transportation Institute (TTI)

·         Tian Feng, District Architect, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit, (BART)

·         Erik Johanson, Strategy and Sustainability Planner, SEPTA

·         Questions and Answers / Discussion




Breakouts on putting it into practice


Breakouts by discipline - Washington Room (all participants except pilot representatives)

Participants divide into small groups and discuss the following questions:

·         What is your biggest challenge to working on climate adaptation in your agency?

·         What are the most potent lessons/most valuable take aways from what you have heard so far during the workshop?

·         How do we mainstream climate adaptation into transit practices? 



·         Capital Program Management (facilitator – Victor Rivas, MBTA and Aaron James, FTA)           

·         Emergency Management (facilitator – Rick Gerhart, FTA)

·         Planning (facilitator – Charlie Goodman, FTA)                                                                            

·         Operations and Maintenance (facilitator – Richard Krisak, MARTA’s Assistant General Manager of Rail Operations and Kyle Nicholson, FTA)

·         National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (facilitator – Maya Sarna, FTA)

·         Environmental Management Systems (EMS) (facilitator – Antoinette Quagliata, FTA)

Participants report back from breakouts.


Special breakout session for pilots - Virginia Room (pilot representatives)

This session for the pilots will provide an opportunity to discuss approaches and challenges related to the transit climate change adaptation assessment pilots.  Participants will brainstorm about sharing resources where pilots have similar project elements or approaches.  It will also allow for identifying common risks or 'choke points' in transit systems. 


Listening Session: FTA Adaptation Planning

·       Robert J. Tuccillo, Associate Administrator for Budget and Policy and CFO, FTA – what is the mandate for federal adaptation planning, what progress has FTA/DOT made so far?

·       What do participants recommend FTA include in its adaptation planning?  What changes to FTA programs and policies would assist the transit industry in adapting to climate change?  What technical assistance can FTA provide?


Path Forward – Summary of key points, wrap-up, next steps, ideas for future collaboration





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