Published on May 22nd, 2017 | by Andrea Bertoli
Climate Change will Disrupt Transportation Infrastructure
The National Environmental and Educational Foundation (NEEF) weekly sends awesome news about climate change issues, and this week features the story about what is going to happen to our transportation infrastructure in the face of climate change.
NEEF reports that the weak transportation system in the United States will be further exacerbated by climate disruptions. Roads, bridges, airports, rail lines, and coastal ports face risks from increasing temperatures, more extreme weather events and changes in precipitation over the coming decades.
Transportation accounts for approximately 26% of total US greenhouse gas emissions, and since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions from the US transportation sector have increased 17%.
Higher temperatures make it easier for expansion joints on bridges and highways to stress, asphalt pavements to deteriorate more rapidly, and aircrafts to operate less efficiently. Higher sea levels associated with a changing climate will increase damages to roads, ports, bridges, and airports due to increased storm surges. Changes in precipitation, such as increased flooding and droughts, will impact bridge foundations, airline delays and cancellations, and storm drainage systems for roads, tunnels, airports, and city streets.
According to US EPA’s report, Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action, reducing global greenhouse gas emissions over the next century can save the US an estimated $4.2-$7.4 billion in road infrastructure maintenance by 2100. Understanding how climate change will impact roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure can help community planners and decision-makers design infrastructure that is resilient to changing environmental and operational conditions.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- May is National Bike Month and May 16-20, 2016 is Bike to Work Week. Need convincing to hop on two wheels? Read all about the benefits of bikes.
- Save money and reduce your environmental impact by following NEEF’s cost saving travel tips.
- Learn how you can take public transportation in your city and how it can save you thousands of dollars each year.
The graphs below display the projected impacts of climate change on US infrastructure.
Other Resources for review and further reading:
- US DOT. 2016. “Greenhouse Gas Mitigation and Energy.” Accessed May 12.
- US DOT. 2016. “Transportation and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” Accessed May 12.
- US EPA. 2015. “Climate Action Benefits: Bridges.” Accessed May 12, 2016.
- US EPA. 2015. “Climate Action Benefits: Roads.” Accessed May 12, 2016.
- US EPA. 2016. “Transportation Sector Emissions.” Accessed May 12.