In response to continued climate change and significant challenges to our infrastructure, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently unveiled the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Discretionary Grant Program. This $848 million competitive grant initiative, part of the larger $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, aims to harden transportation infrastructure in the face of climate change, ensuring that not only transportation components but also housing and other infrastructure remain resilient.
This crucial investment highlights the importance of building resilient infrastructure that can withstand the ever-increasing effects of climate change, ultimately saving money in the long run by minimizing the need for costly maintenance and rebuilding. To truly maximize the impact of these funds, transportation agencies across the U.S. need advanced tools and solutions to navigate the complex planning landscape and optimize their projects effectively.
Project requirements for PROTECT Resiliency Grants
The PROTECT Resilience Grants are competitive, and eligible projects can include initiatives such as planning activities to identify and assess vulnerabilities to natural hazards and resilience improvements to existing transportation infrastructure (e.g., seawalls, levees, and other protective measures). Community resilience and evacuation route projects, such as improving signage and communication systems are also eligible, as well as at-risk coastal infrastructure projects – like elevating roads and bridges.
Projects must be located in the United States and must be consistent with the goals of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. To be selected for funding, projects must be of high quality and have a strong likelihood of success.
Examples of PROTECT Resilience Grants
Many organizations have been taking advantage of the scheme to improve their asset network’s resilience against climate risk. The City of New Orleans, for example, used PROTECT to develop a plan to improve the resilience of its transportation infrastructure to sea level rise and storm surge, while the State of California employed the grants to elevate a road that was at risk of flooding due to sea level rise. The Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Tampa Bay area also benefitted from the grants by using them to improve signage and communication systems to help people evacuate during hurricanes.
These are just a few examples of the many projects that have been funded by the PROTECT Resilience Grants, which illustrate how valuable a resource they can be for communities that are working to make their transportation infrastructure more resilient to natural hazards.
Using data analytics to build greater resilience and optimize grants
Understanding the interdependencies of asset networks, such as roads, power grids, water supply systems, and communication networks, is vital for identifying vulnerabilities to climatic events. This is because disruptions in one asset can cascade through the network, affecting the functioning of other assets and leading to a domino effect of failures with severe consequences.
For instance, a severe storm can damage power lines, resulting in power outages that impact water treatment plants and communication networks. When these interdependencies are recognized, it is possible to discover potential points of failure and develop strategies to mitigate the impacts of climatic events; which might include enhancing the resilience of critical infrastructure or devising contingency plans for swift service restoration in case of disruptions.
Arcadis Gen's Climate Resilience Analytics (CRA) and Transport Strategy Optimizer Pro (TSO Pro) offer innovative, data-driven solutions to help US transportation agencies address these challenges and make the most of the funding provided by the PROTECT grant program.
Our CRA solution empowers agencies to understand the impact of climate change-driven events on their assets and build greater resilience into their transportation networks. With the ability to run multiple scenarios, access advanced network analytics, and visualize digital versions of assets, agencies can optimize their planning and protect their communities from climate-related disruptions.
TSO Pro, on the other hand, is specifically designed for transportation agencies to maximize the use of their funds and execute more projects. By leveraging artificial intelligence, TSO Pro helps agencies build strategic investment plans that optimize project execution while staying within budget and other constraints. This powerful tool ensures compliance with grant requirements, enhances visuals for all funding sources, and generates customizable automated reports to keep stakeholders informed.
Together, CRA and TSO Pro offer a comprehensive approach to infrastructure resilience, empowering transportation agencies to plan effectively and optimize the use of the PROTECT grant program. These solutions ensure organizations create resilient infrastructure that can weather the climate crisis and safeguard the nation's transportation systems for generations to come.
As the U.S. government continues to invest in making infrastructure more resilient to climate-related events, adopting CRA and TSO Pro will help agencies mitigate current and future climate risk and be crucial in ensuring a sustainable and secure future for our communities.
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