The Effects of Sea Level Rise (ESLR): surface transportation resilience in collaboration with the Department of Transportation

PI: Kidwell, David (NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science)
Co-PI(s): Bowers, Benjamin (Auburn University) : Vasconcelos, Jose (Auburn University) : Holmes, Robert (Auburn University) : Webb, Bret (University of South Alabama) : Wright, Daniel (University of Wisconsin-Madison) : Anderson, J. Brian (Auburn University) : O’Donnell, Frances (Auburn University) : Sias, Jo (University of New Hampshire) : Dave, Eshan (University of New Hampshire) : Jacobs, Jennifer (University of New Hampshire) : LaBranche, Julie (Rockingham Planning Commission) : Roache, Timothy (Rockingham Planning Commission) : Walker, David (Rockingham Planning Commission) : Knott, Jayne (JFK Environmental Services LLC) : Douglass, Scott (South Coast Engineers Inc.)
Start Year: 2021 | Duration: 2 years
Partners: NOAA, Federal Highway Administration, Auburn University, University of South Alabama, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Alabama Department of Transportation, University of New Hampshire, Rockingham (New Hampshire) Planning Commission, JFK Environmental Services LLC, South Coast Engineers Inc.

Project Abstract:

The NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science Competitive Research Program executes the Effects of Sea Level Rise (ESLR) program. ESLR delivers science products and information that inform coastal managers and decision makers of both local coastal vulnerability and solutions to mitigate flood risk to communities, infrastructure, and ecosystems in their region. In fiscal year 2021, ESLR published a Notice of Funding Opportunity to solicit proposals for projects with two focal areas, surface transportation and general coastal resilience. The surface transportation focal area represents a partnership with the Federal Highway Administration to focus on adaptation planning for surface transportation and focuses specifically on projects that evaluate natural and hybrid options for mitigating impacts of inundation (e.g., storm surge, nuisance flooding, and/or wave actions) on surface transportation infrastructure (i.e., roads, public transportation, and rail). A total of 22 high quality proposals were received, which were encouraged from an initial 72 letters of intent, and a panel review and selection process chose three final projects to fund. We received $500,000 of matching funds from NOAA NOPP to complement funding from NOAA and Federal Highway Administration, which allowed us to fund two projects in fiscal year 2021.

Matching funds from NOPP were used to support two projects:

  1. “Surface Transportation, Sea Level Rise, and Coastal Storms: A Sustainable Path to Increased Resilience.” This is a collaboration with the Alabama Department of Transportation to evaluate the effects of sea level rise on road and ferry access infrastructure in coastal Alabama and determine the ability of natural and nature-based features to mitigate those effects. The project is led by Dr. Benjamin Bowers of Auburn University with co-investigators Jose Vasconcelos (Auburn University), Robert Holmes (Auburn University), Bret Webb (University of South Alabama), Daniel Wright (University of Wisconsin-Madison), J. Brian Anderson (Auburn University), and Frances O’Donnell (Auburn University). More information on this project can be found at
  2. “Pavement Resilience to Sea Level Rise and Potential Mitigation Options Using Natural and Nature-Based Features.” This project will investigate coastal processes and hazards that damage roadway pavement and develop a toolkit for decision makers to evaluate roadway vulnerability to sea level rise and flooding. The effectiveness of natural and nature-based features to protect roadway infrastructure will also be explored. This work is focused in coastal New England (New Hampshire) and the Gulf Coast (Alabama). The project is led by Professor Jo Sias (University of New Hampshire) with a multi-disciplinary team of co-investigators: Dr. Eshan Dave and Dr. Jennifer Jacobs of the University of New Hampshire; Dr. Bret Webb of the University of South Alabama; Julie LaBranche, Timothy Roache, and David Walker of the Rockingham (NH) Planning Commission; Dr. Jayne Knott of JFK Environmental Services LLC (Upton, MA); and Dr. Scott Douglass of South Coast Engineers, Inc. (Fairhope, AL). More information about this project can be found at