States Move Slow on Climate-Resilient Infrastructure infrastructure

States Move Slow on Climate-Resilient Infrastructure infrastructure

From flooding in Delaware to buckling pavement in Washington, storms and heatwaves are threatening America's infrastructure. The Washington Post recently asked state transportation departments how they were preparing for the infrastructure issues that climate change will cause. Varied responses suggest that state to state, the US is struggling to contend with increasingly common extreme weather events and their effects.

Why This Matters

Managing climate change's effects on infrastructure is projected to cost as much as $20 billion a year by 2100, which is 40% of current federal road spending. And, government agencies haven't taken action quickly enough. According to the Washington Post, "Researchers who wrote transportation-related portions of the federal government's Fourth National Climate Assessment reached the conclusion in 2018 that 'proactive implementation of resilience measures is still limited.'"

Building resilience to extreme weather events is a huge endeavor, sometimes requiring a complete overhaul of the current system. For example, higher summer temperatures mean that states have to change their formulation for asphalt to keep the road from deteriorating.

Hitting The Pavement On Infrastructure Resilience

On November 15, Biden signed into law a trillion dollar infrastructure bill, which contained provisions that require states to undertake climate resilience projects. It includes $7.3 billion for states to spend on resilience projects, while it allots another $1.4 billion for competitive grants that would award regions federal help in fortifying their roads.

Meanwhile, the Federal Highway Administration has been doing its part, funding resilience research with $7.2 million.

The US Transportation Department also introduced a comprehensive plan to help protect local infrastructure from extreme weather. In its announcement, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg reassured, "The good news is that we know what to do about it, and America is fully capable of rising to the occasion."

NBC: Scientists Warn Of Climate Change Dangers As Extreme Weather Hits US, July 2021.