Center for Safety Equity in Transportation

rural • isolated • tribal • indigenous

Assessing the Transportation Adaptation Options to Sea Level Rise for Safety Enhancement in RITI Communities through a Structured Decision Making Framework

  • Active

    CSET Project #: 1902

    Project Funding: University of Hawai'i Manoa

  • Start Date: September 2019

    End Date: October 2021

    Budget: $36027

Project Summary

SLR and more frequent extreme events are particularly a concern for transportation infrastructure. According to the National Research Council, approximately 60,000 miles of coastal roads in the United States are already exposed to flooding from coastal storms and high waves. In particular, the livelihoods and transportation safety of indigenous rural communities are at more risk to sea level rise and exacerbated coastal flooding due to their heavy dependence on natural resources, settlements in relatively isolated fringe land, limited accessibility to services and alternative economic activities, and lack of resources and tools for adaptation. Despite existing studies on sea level rise’s impacts, there is a lack of understanding of how rural and relatively isolated communities perceive such risks and how they could adapt to such risks in future. It is unclear what values and resources at-risk communities would prioritize in adaptation. It also remains a question whether these values and priorities are consistent with the public agencies’ priorities. Through interview, best practices review, and community engagement, this project proposes to better understand the objectives, priorities, preferences, and risk tolerance of various stakeholders to foster community-agency partnerships for long term transportation adaptation. Specifically, it aims to understand communities’ perceived safety challenges with coastal flooding and the social sensitivity to such challenges; understand community’s value preference and priorities in adapting to sea level rise; identify alternative adaptation options and traditional knowledge/practice in improving communities’ safe access to highly valued resources and activities; and identify potential conflicts and tradeoffs in transportation adaptation decision-making process to facilitate communication and collaboration. The findings and lessons learned not only have practical significance to transportation adaptation in the state of Hawaiʻi, but also have the potential to be generalized to RITI communities in similar coastal regions.