Thanks for your interest in Reaching Resilience 2050, our Q&A series fleshing out the people and processes behind our latest long-range transportation plan. To read the plan in full, explore potential projects near you and learn how to share your feedback, please visit publicinput.com/Resilience2050.
Eileen Singleton is a Principal Transportation Engineer for Baltimore Metropolitan Council.
Hi Eileen! Let's dive in. Please tell us a bit about you and your work.
I’m a civil engineer, and when I joined BMC in 1998, I was hired to work on projects related to planning for intelligent transportation systems, or ITS. ITS projects use technology and interagency communications to improve how the transportation network operates. One example is the use of cameras and sensors to “see” traffic, and, using web and phone applications, to let travelers and operators know what’s going on. Another example is providing real time arrival information to transit riders. Climate resilience was not an explicit focus of my work back then but the resilience of the transportation network was certainly enhanced by the use of ITS, allowing the most people to use these facilities without building capacity and providing awareness of conditions to system operators and travelers. Over the last several years, my work expanded to include climate resilience explicitly, and we’ve developed documents to support climate resilience preparedness in departments of public works (DPWs) and transportation (DOTs): Climate Change Resource Guide and Climate Resilience Guidance for Local Jurisdictions.
Wow! This type of work is more urgent than ever. How does it fit into the preparation of Resilience 2050?
The Climate Change Resource Guide includes a chapter on historical climate trends and climate projections for the region. The information from this chapter was incorporated into the climate resilience chapter of Resilience 2050. And much of the Climate Change and Resilience White Paper developed for Resilience 2050 is taken from that Guide. The Guide also includes examples of climate adaptation strategies that can be used to reduce the impacts of climate change on DOT and DPW resources. Considerations of equity have been incorporated throughout Resilience 2050, and it is especially important to consider climate resilience of populations that have traditionally felt more of the burden of climate change impacts, including people of color, those who are low-income or have disabilities, children, and the elderly.
Speak on it! And who are the key partners you engage in this effort?
The target audience for the two climate projects is local DPWs and DOTs. In addition to staff from these agencies, we had participation by local staff members from planning and sustainability offices as well as state and federal partners. Each project had a steering committee that met with the consultant team several times to provide input on the documents. These partners also reviewed drafts of all documents and attended smaller topic-focused meetings with the consultant team. The Climate Resilience for Local Jurisdictions project also included three workshops – focused on transportation, water, and stormwater – and an even wider range of partners attended those to ensure our work is coordinated across agencies and levels of government. As local DPWs and DOTs incorporate resilience strategies, they will include a wider range of stakeholders from within their jurisdictions as well as from their communities
Speaking of, what key highlights do you hope folks take away?
A few things come to mind:
- The climate of our region has been changing (refer to Chapter 2 of the Climate Change Resource Guide). Annual average temperature has been increasing over the last century and there is a clear upward trend. Also, sea levels in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries have been rising, leading to significant increases in “nuisance flooding” (i.e., flooding from high tides even during sunny days).
- Our local DPWs and DOTs have been seeing and responding to impacts from the changing climate (refer to Chapter 3 of the Climate Change Resource Guide).
- Climate change impacts have been felt disproportionately by vulnerable populations, including people of color, those who are low-income or have disabilities, children, and the elderly.
- Temperatures are projected to increase dramatically in our region in the coming decades (refer to Chapter 2 of the Climate Change Resource Guide).
- Total precipitation is not projected to increase that much overall but we will continue to experience more extreme precipitation events, like the major floods in Old Ellicott City in 2016 and 2018 (refer to Chapter 2 of the Climate Change Resource Guide).
- These changes have and will continue to directly impact our transportation network. Our DPWs and DOTs must continue to incorporate these changes into their plans, projects, and programs so our transportation network remains as resilient as possible and all of us can travel as safely and efficiently as possible.
Thanks. Lastly, how can folks learn more and stay involved?
If you’d like to learn more about our climate resilience work, you can check out our recent Climate Change Resource Guide and Climate Resilience Guidance for Local Jurisdictions. Chapter 2 of the Climate Change Resource Guide has an overview of how our region’s climate has changed and how it is projected to change between now and 2100. The Climate Change and Resilience White Paper also outlines some of the key topics from the Climate Change Resource Guide
That's all from Eileen, but check out our other Reaching Resilience 2050 entries on Air Quality, Project Implementation and Safety. To learn more about our Resilience 2050 long-range transportation plan, please visit publicinput.com/Resilience2050.