SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – The California Department of Transportation has released new reports on the negative effects of climate change on the state’s highway system and infrastructure.
The reports by Caltrans, known as Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments, highlighted areas in Northern California and the Central Valley heavily impacted by extreme temperatures and frequent wildfires in recent years. The reports say extreme weather events association with climate change are already disrupting and damaging the state’s roadway infrastructure and has potential for more severe impacts in the future.
Caltrans say climatic and extreme weather conditions affect the state’s roadway infrastructure in a variety of ways, and may increase exposure of roads, bridges and rails to environmental factors beyond original design considerations.
In northeast California, assessments were conducted in Shasta, Tehama, Plumas, Lassen, Modoc, Trinity and Siskiyou counties. In the Central Valley and Sierra assessments were conducted in Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern counties.
A previous vulnerability report conducted for the San Francisco Bay Area was issued earlier this year, which highlighted areas vulnerable to wildfire – combined with the resulting land erosion and flooding from storms – along with higher precipitation, sea level rise, and storm surges.
That report showed that the 2016-2017 storm season caused severe flooding, landslides and coastal erosion totaling over $1.2 billion in highway damages statewide. Nearly $390 million of those damages occurred in the Bay Area.
Caltrans plans to issue a total of 12 reports for each region in the state which will be used to develop methods to prioritize infrastructure projects that address climate change concerns when financial resources become available.