Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Planning: Agency Roles and Workforce Development

Because climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of many extreme weather events, climate adaptation and resiliency planning are increasingly important tasks for transportation agencies at all levels of government. Considering the variety of events that impact the transportation system, transportation professionals must consider a host of different adaptation actions, ranging from changes in maintenance and communication procedures to changes in design and even the relocation or replacement of infrastructure.

The importance and complexity of this work is spurring a rapid expansion of new adaptation tools and numerous adaptation pilot projects. The roles for different types of agencies in implementing these measures have yet to be clearly delineated. Moreover, while workforce development in transportation is recognized as a critical issue, relatively little is currently known about the specific workforce development needs for climate adaptation.

This policy brief summarizes findings from the Climate Adaptation Planning Survey (CAPS), an online survey of planners and other professionals conducted in June 2015, that assessed the adaptation planning capacity, the adequacy of technical tools, and current preparation levels of local and state agencies, as well as the workforce development needs faced by transportation planning agencies as they increasingly focus their work on adaptation to climate change.