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MTC and Partners Tackle Sea Level Rise

October 2011
Given the significant number of residential, commercial and industrial structures situated on its shorelines and low-lying areas — not to mention many miles of freeways, airports, port facilities and other transportation infrastructure adjacent to the Bay — the Bay Area is especially vulnerable to future sea level rise. In a 2009 report, the region’s Bay Conservation and Development Commission identified 671 miles of existing and 337 miles of future road, rail, air and other infrastructure at risk of being affected by potential sea level rise.

MTC, in partnership with Caltrans and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), is part of a pilot project sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that is conducting risk assessments of impacts on infrastructure from projected sea level rise. Using a conceptual model developed by FHWA, MTC and its partners are taking a comprehensive inventory of potentially vulnerable transportation assets along a section of the Alameda County shoreline and measuring their relative importance to the health of the transportation network as a whole.

MTC received $300,000 in grant funds for the pilot project, which will be used to assist the FHWA in refining the conceptual model for assessing impacts of global climate change on transportation networks nationwide. Launched in 2010, the study is scheduled to wrap up in early 2012.

The study is also part of a larger effort spearheaded by BCDC,  “Adapting to Rising Tides”(ART), which works with community members and local and state officials to gain a better understanding of how sea level rise and other climate change impacts will affect the Bay Area's ecosystems, infrastructure and economy in the same sub-region of the Bay. The ART project will also identify strategies for community-based adaptation planning to address these challenges and develop a process for implementing them.

MTC contact: Brenda Dix, 510.817.5927,