AASHTO Journal

Hurricane Sandy Recovery Task Force Report Released, <br>Highlights Some Transportation-Related Recommendations

On Monday, the Presidential Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force released a document that the federal government hopes will serve as a prototype for communities nationwide facing major extreme weather events, while also specifically addressing how to continue rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, which hit in October 2012. U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan chairs the task force, on which U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx serves as a member.

While focusing on the damage done to communities as a whole, the report highlighted the severe damage caused to multiple transportation systems and modes in the New York City area.

"More than half of the nation's total daily trips on public transportation systems occur within the Sandy-affected region," according to the report. "The day after the storm, nearly all of the region's systems were shut down due to flooding, wind damage, or loss of power, further complicating the rebuilding effort."

In order to help ensure safer communities and less catastrophic outcomes, the task force makes several recommendations. Some of the recommendations made regarding transportation (and therefore directed to USDOT as the lead on those recommendations) are:

  • Provide technical assistance to states and localities to help optimize Sandy recovery infrastructure funding, share best practices, leverage resources, advance sustainability, and meet the needs of vulnerable communities (the TIFIA loan program was specifically referenced)
  • Expedite flow of Sandy transportation funding to needed repairs
  • Align Sandy transportation funding expenditures with national policy goals
  • Consider green infrastructure options in all Sandy infrastructure investments (with other agencies)

USDOT was also directed to take a supporting role in the following recommendations:

  • Consider applying the Infrastructure Resilience Guidelines (which the government adopted for Sandy) nationally
  • Federal, state, and local agencies should continue to coordinate Sandy recovery infrastructure resilience projects

"President Obama was clear that his Administration is committed to staying in the Sandy-impacted region until the work was done, and today marks a crucial step in that journey," Donovan said in a statement. "This Rebuilding Strategy will protect families, small businesses and communities across the region, and the taxpayers' investment in them, from the risks posed by sea level rise and more extreme weather events – risks that are made worse by the reality of a changing climate."

The 200-page report is available here.

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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