How Could Climate Change Harm Roads, Bridges?

By Peter O'Dowd
Published: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 5:33pm
(Photo courtesy of the Arizona Department of Transportation)
A flooded underpass at Greenway Road and Interstate 17 on September 9, 2013.

Extreme drought, dust storms and wildfires could overwhelm the state’s transportation infrastructure. Now the Arizona Department of Transportation is studying where it may be vulnerable.

The state transportation department will study how climate change could damage Arizona’s roads, freeways and bridges as part of a nationwide effort at 19 different agencies.

The study will cover a north-south corridor that cuts right through Arizona, from Interstate 19 near Nogales all the way up to Interstate 17. Researchers will collect data along the way and hold stakeholder meetings around the state, according to ADOT spokeswoman Laura Douglas.

It is acknowledgment that extreme drought, dust storms and wildfires could overwhelm the state’s infrastructure.

“All of these weather events have an impact on infrastructure,” Douglas said. “So this will allow us to see where our infrastructure might be vulnerable.”

The year-long study gets started this week. It is part of a pilot program at the Federal Highway Administration to find methods to adapt to extreme weather. Arizona’s grant amounts to $125,000.

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