Adapting to Climate Change

The Arizona Department of Transportation - Extreme Weather and the Impacts on Drainage-related Critical Transportation Assets - Adaptation and Lessons Learned

  • Steven Olmstead (AZDOT)


Arizona’s commerce, people, and ecosystems rely heavily on the operation of its infrastructure. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) manages Arizona’s transportation infrastructure - including 29,300 maintenance lane miles and over 4,700 bridges. ADOT’s 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report reflects over $18 billion in book value of capital assets. Replacement cost of those assets could be ten times that in today’s dollars. Climate and extreme weather-related effects have been increasing in Arizona. The current drought event in the Southwestern United States is ranked as one of the top five strongest historicallyi. In fact, the current national drought has contributed to over $30 billion in damages that has affected over 80% of the Nation’s 3143 countiesii.

ADOT’s own preliminary studies showed concerns with the climate and extreme weather vulnerability of bridges, culverts, pavement, and roadside vegetation / stabilization. These assets appear vulnerable to several climate and extreme weather-related effects, including intense precipitation, wildfire-induced floods, drought-related dust storms, and direct effects of increased surface temperatures. Considering the balance between predictable asset deterioration curves and the sudden and unpredictable nature of extreme weather and the long term trends of climate change impacts can serve as an important risk management component. One asset category specifically susceptible to these extreme weather impacts is ADOT’s culvert inventory (and to no lesser extent, ADOT’s catch and retention basins) as they relate to key roadside drainage, watershed and stormwater efforts. Developing risk-based approaches to extreme weather and asset management related activities is a national priority.

ADOT respectfully request the opportunity to present their climate and extreme weather adaptation experiences and lessons learned. The discussion will include;

 ADOT’s FHWA extreme weather vulnerability assessment pilot project and other internal program and construction related efforts.

 ADOT’s drainage asset inventory – specifically related to Elevation, Material, Condition, Capacity, Average Daily Volume, Failure History and climate modeling

 Hydrology impacts (extreme weather events, post‐fire hydrology, hydrology for water quality)

 Integration into the wider ADOT Transportation Asset Management Plan (MAP-21/TAMP)

How to Cite:

Olmstead, S., (2014) “The Arizona Department of Transportation - Extreme Weather and the Impacts on Drainage-related Critical Transportation Assets - Adaptation and Lessons Learned”, National Hydraulic Engineering Conference 2014 1(2014).

Rights: Copyright © 2014 the presenters

Publisher Notes

  • Panel moderated by Matt O'Connor, ILDOT.
  • About the Presenters: Steven Olmsted is with the Environmental Planning Group in the Intermodal Transportation Division at the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). He assists with environmental planning and implementation in connection with delivering ADOT’s annual construction program. He currently works on the project teams for climate change and extreme weather planning, smart transportation, USGS water modeling partnering effort and administers FHWA’s INVEST sustainability effort at ADOT with a general focus on the built environment. In addition, Steve has held several finance, budget and resource management position at ADOT.



Published on
21 Aug 2014
Peer Reviewed