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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Developing a Tool Suite to Address Resilience Return on Investment in Transportation Infrastructure

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

A study conducted in 2019 revealed that at least $6 are saved for every $1 invested in reducing vulnerability to natural hazards. For stakeholders to accurately assess the value of resilience in future infrastructure investments, they must be able to understand and incorporate the costs and benefits of resilience into the transportation planning decision-making process. This is a difficult evaluation to make, considering that future conditions and hazards are highly uncertain.  

On August 1, 2022, the U.S. DOT Volpe Center released the first public version of the Resilience and Disaster Recovery (RDR) Tool Suite (V. 2022.1), which enables transportation planners to calculate the return on investment (ROI) for transportation infrastructure resilience projects across a range of uncertain hazard scenarios. The Resilience and Disaster Recovery (RDR) Tool Suite was developed by the U.S. DOT Volpe Center in support of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology (OST-R). The RDR Tool Suite is designed to help transportation agencies explore the scenario space for transportation disruption and mitigation across a range of uncertain future hazards (e.g., floods, earthquakes, etc.) in the context of long-range transportation planning. The RDR Tool Suite leverages standard travel demand modeling that is widely used by transportation agencies. The tool allows agencies to incorporate the cost and benefits of resilience into the transportation planning decision-making process to make informed decisions on future infrastructure investments. The U.S. DOT Volpe Center developed this tool suite from its conceptualization through to implementation.  

During development of the RDR Tool Suite beta version, conducted in partnership with FHWA, the U.S. DOT Volpe Center coordinated a pilot study in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia in collaboration with the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (HRTPO), the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC), and the Virginia DOT.  The U.S. DOT Volpe Center partnered with HRTPO, HRPDC, the Hillsborough, FL Transportation Planning Organization, and the Houston-Galveston Area Council to execute additional pilot testing in advance of the public release.  HRTPO intends to use results from the RDR Tool Suite pilot to inform project prioritization for its long-range transportation plan.  

State and federal agencies need to determine which assets will provide the best ROI when considering transportation infrastructure resilience. The RDR Tool Suite will provide transportation agencies with the tools necessary to evaluate the ROI provided by a set of resilience investments across a range of transportation assets and uncertain future hazard conditions, and for ranking those projects based on performance. Reducing transportation infrastructure vulnerability advances the U.S. DOT’s goals of enhancing resilience and addressing climate change.