PSI: URS helps adapt existing highways for the future

By: Tim Hill

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The Global Adaptation Institute (GAIN) is featuring a five-part series on GAIN.org dissecting the United Nation’s Private Sector Initiative, as well as zooming-in on private sector best practices in adaptation. Read other articles to learn more about water, food & agriculture, coastal protection and energy companies who have found business opportunities in building global resilience, HERE

The highway network in the United Kingdom has historically followed past climate data to determine policies and standard operations. However, going forward, protocol must be altered to assess future climate predictions.

Three counties in the U.K. foresaw that adapting highway policies to adjust to climate change will be increasingly important and created the 3 Counties Alliance Partnership (3CAP). Resilience is the key to the future of the highway network, the group said.

On that concept, URS, a worldwide engineering, design and construction firm, was contacted by 3CAP, which commissioned Scott Wilson to “carry out a collaborative study to investigate the impact of climate change on their highway policies and standards and to identify adaptation opportunities.”

The study was based on U.K. Climate Projections from 2002 and 2009 while using a multi-criteria analysis methodology and URS Scott Wilson’s Adapting to Climate Change Tool or (AtCCT). AtCCT helps its users understand climate change risks as well as the opportunities related to their projects.

cracked-highwayThe goal of the study was to determine change up until the 2080s and “included a risk and probability assessment of the effects of climate change on the highway network, along with the development of recommended adaptation actions for key policy areas.”

A primary goal of the AtCCT project is to develop prioritized adaptation responses to maximize opportunities and reduce risk. As a result of this tool and research obtained by URS, the three authorities that contacted them have been able to start taking strides to adapt the highway system. 

The recommendations provided by the study will help streamline maintenance, inspection and repair activities, which will eventually “lead to capital and whole-life resource savings, and an increasing synergy of operations across the region.” The adjustments to the highway network will build resilience for the future to adapt to a changing climate as well as reduce cost and inconvenience of the community if repairs are required in the future due to natural events or weather. 

URS understands the future of climate change and the effects it will have on our economy, people and infrastructure. Whether the company provides engineering consulting, design or construction services, URS’ projects have the goal of resilience in mind. 

The private sector is incrementally extending outreach and understanding of the urgent need to adapt to global challenges, but more investment is needed. Companies must look to the future and determine best practices that protect people and livelihoods as well as offer opportunities in business. Thanks to Unilever for making an impact on communities and sharing adaptation efforts on the U.N.’s Private Sector Initiative.