Development and Implementation of Sustainable Transportation Resilience Indicators

Communities are complex systems subject to a variety of hazards that can result in significant disruption to critical functions. Community resilience assessment is gaining popularity as a means to help communities better prepare for, respond to, and recover from disruption. Sustainable resilience, a recently developed concept, requires communities to assess system-wide capability to maintain desired performance levels, while simultaneously evaluating impacts to resilience due to changes in hazards and vulnerability over extended periods of time.

In an earlier work, the authors developed a classification scheme to aid in identification, selection and application of community sustainable resilience indicators that can be tailored to a community’s needs in operationalizing the assessment process. These indicators were characterized according to whether they aligned with social, economic or environmental systems that are necessary for a community to achieve a sustainable resilience domain of survival, well-being, or full preparedness.

Of the critical infrastructure systems that support these systems and domains, transportation is arguably the most important. This is based on the premise that transportation is a means to an end, providing the mobility that enables a community to establish and maintain a social, economic and environmental fabric. Whether it involves an educational, medical, recreational, religious, work or other purpose, absent a safe and reliable transportation system, none of these activities can be satisfactorily pursued. Moreover, in times of crisis, transportation serves as a vital artery for enabling access to and egress from impacted areas.

The objective of this project was to establish and demonstrate a method for evaluating a community’s transportation resilience, such that if deficiencies exist, attention can be focused on mitigating those concerns. This approach was designed around the scenario of a river valley community exposed to the threat of a significant flood event, with the expectation that the methodology has the potential to be extended to assess community resilience to other natural and manmade hazards.