NCDOT Statewide Resilience Improvement Plan


Our Client’s Challenge

The amount and impacts of climate-related weather events are increasing, and transportation systems are paying the price. In 2014, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) introduced the Transportation System Preparedness and Resilience to Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events Order (FHWA Order 5520) in response to the increasing number of climate-related emergencies and extreme weather events. Committed to its mission of “connecting people, products, and places safely and efficiently,” the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) established a resilience policy and program with the goal “to cooperatively plan, construct, operate, and maintain a safe, efficient, and resilient transportation network.”

Having completed numerous highway vulnerability assessments and other resilience initiatives, NCDOT identified the need for a statewide resilience improvement plan. The department wanted to continue proactively maintaining and protecting its infrastructure assets while improving resiliency against upcoming challenges and possible disasters. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) established the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) program, managed by FHWA, for DOTs to increase the resilience of infrastructure with federal funding for climate change and natural disasters for highway, port, transit, and railway systems.

Our Solution

Gannett Fleming is a long-standing NCDOT partner and trusted advisor. We have completed numerous projects for the department, including developing tools for data repositories, transportation planning, and a recent climate strategy report among many others. Having demonstrated our commitment to and understanding of NCDOT, the department contacted us to assist in developing a resilience improvement plan. We leveraged our knowledge of its transportation network and climate strategy to expand the original focus from a single highway corridor to the entire state, considering airports, ports, and rail for a multimodal resilience improvement plan, including criticality assessments.

We used NCDOT’s definition of resiliency — the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions — as the foundation of our work on the plan. With this as our north star, we followed a framework process to develop a criticality assessment of major roadways as well as risk-based assessment and prioritization processes.

Partnering with NCDOT throughout the planning activities, we identified the plan’s requirements and proposed the content, which included:

  • Developing statewide roadway and railroad criticality models and maps.
  • Creating resilience maps, which included identifying vulnerable assets and areas.
  • Establishing a score-based prioritization process for potential resilience improvement projects.
  • Compiling a final report for approval.

The criticality maps included developing geographic information systems (GIS) models and interactive web maps. We partnered with GeoDecisions, our GIS, data science, and technology division, and leveraged our platinum partnership with Esri® to implement multiple GIS functionalities. The criticality maps allow NCDOT to visualize the different projects throughout its network and consider both immediate and long-range transportation planning. The interactive web maps allow NCDOT to quickly identify the various activities that are eligible for PROTECT program funding, such as:

  • Planning (for either a state or metropolitan planning organization): developing resilience improvement plans, completing the design, developing data tools, increasing technical capacity, and planning and preparing for evacuations.
  • Resilience improvements: improving surface transportation infrastructure and increasing surface transportation resiliency (including rising sea levels, flooding, wildfires, extreme weather events, and other natural disasters).
  • Community resilience and evacuation routes: refining and increasing evacuation route safety.
  • At-risk coastal infrastructure: increasing highway resiliency against sea level rise, flooding, wildfires, and other extreme weather events.

With the resilience improvement plan developed, NCDOT can make data-driven decisions to prioritize resilience projects.

Key Features

  • Comprehensive multimodal roadway, bridges, culverts, and railroads — statewide resilience improvement plan.
  • Real-time criticality maps, including GIS models and interactive web maps.
  • Actionable plans to improve resiliency and increase transportation network safety and reliability.


  • Ability to prioritize surface transportation resilience improvement
  • Resources and tools to visually represent the impact of the resilience of surface transportation improvement projects.
  • A resilience prioritization process that allows department leadership to make data-driven decisions based on criticality level, exposure level, sensitivity, and inclusion in the state transportation improvement program.

Awards & Recognition

  • Awards. This web part is hidden.


North Carolina Department of Transportation


North Carolina


Management Consulting, Resilience Program Development, Criticality Modeling, Vulnerability Assessment, Resilience Prioritization

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