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GLRPPR Sector Resource: A Framework for Considering Climate Change in Transportation and Land Use Scenario Planning: Lessons Learned from an Interagency Pilot Project on Cape Cod: Final Report

A Framework for Considering Climate Change in Transportation and Land Use Scenario Planning: Lessons Learned from an Interagency Pilot Project on Cape Cod: Final Report

Numerous regions of scenic beauty and environmental significance - some of which include large areas of Federally-owned land - will be adversely affected by shifting weather patterns and impacts associated with climate change. To help develop long-term mitigation and adaptation strategies, the Volpe Center is working with a team of federal, regional, and state stakeholders to execute a scenario planning pilot project on Cape Cod, Massachusetts to integrate climate change considerations into existing and continuing transportation, land use, coastal zone, and hazard mitigation planning processes. Federal participants include the sponsors - the Federal Highway Administration, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, and the Department of Defense. The pilot project also received vital support from the Cape Cod Commission, the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and Cape Cod's fifteen towns. The pilot project employed CommunityViz, an interactive, GIS-based decision support tool, to develop and evaluate a series of transportation and land use scenarios against a range of indicators, including vehicle miles traveled (VMT), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and percent of new population in areas identified as vulnerable to sea level rise. Following the development of growth projections and preliminary scenarios, the Volpe Center convened a two-day workshop of local, regional, and Federal stakeholders on Cape Cod. Having reviewed the indicator performance of each preliminary scenario, breakout groups allocated projected population and employment growth and designated new transit stops and route frequencies. A group of local stakeholders consolidated these breakout scenarios into a single comprehensive scenario, which was refined and validated by local stakeholders, including the Cape Cod Commission, Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, Cape Cod National Seashore, and town planning staff during subsequent meetings. The scenario planning process required workshop attendees to evaluate complex tradeoffs among land use, conservation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation through their placement of new housing and employment units. One tradeoff became particularly apparent when several town planners expressed concern that increasing the housing density of existing economic centers in the interest of reducing VMT and GHG emissions would also increase vulnerability to sea level rise, as a number of Cape Cod's town centers are located within areas identified as potentially vulnerable. While not prescriptive in nature, the refined scenario developed during this pilot project will serve as a basis for further evaluating these tradeoffs and provide a baseline for future planning efforts on Cape Cod. The Volpe Center is currently working with the Cape Cod Commission and other stakeholders to determine how to incorporate elements of the refined scenario into their planning efforts, including updates to Cape Cod's Regional Transportation Plan and Regional Policy Plan.


John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

Resource Type:

Date of Publication:
July 2011

Associated Sectors:

GLRPPR is a member of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange, a national network of regional information centers: NEWMOA (Northeast), WRRC (Southeast), GLRPPR (Great Lakes), ZeroWasteNet (Southwest), P2RIC (Plains), Peaks to Prairies (Mountain), WSPPN (Pacific Southwest), PPRC (Northwest).


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