Urban Transportation System Flood Vulnerability Assessment with Special Reference to Low Income and Minority Neighborhoods

Courtney Crosson, University of Arizona

Summary:

We propose to conduct a flood vulnerability assessment of the City of Tucson, Arizona’s transportation systems with special reference to low-income and minority neighborhoods. Short-term flooding from extreme storm events poses a serious challenge to transportation system reliability and emergency response in cities across the United States. This problem, which is anticipated to grow over the next century due to climate change, is often hardest on vulnerable populations, including low-income and minority neighborhoods.  Our work will advance national research methods for assessing multi-modal transportation degradation due to extreme storms.  We will identify priority locations for Tucson to make transportation improvement investments pursuant to its new Green Infrastructure (GI) initiative for the purpose of mitigating urban transportation system flooding. This will include increasing equitable accessibility to the multi-modal transportation network by low-income and minority neighborhoods.  As a case study, our proposal has national flood hazard transportation vulnerability and equity implications. The proposal has three stages. In Stage 1 we will estimate flood conditions based on extreme precipitation events with a digital elevation model (DEM) constructed using LiDAR data. In Stage 2 we will analyze neighborhood transportation vulnerability based on overall transportation system performance degradation with special reference to low-income and minority neighborhoods.  Stage 3 will include our efforts to communicate our findings broadly, including a direct application to current city and county Green Infrastructure (GI) planning efforts.  This research will serve as a proof of concept for a larger, long-term project to advance national research methods to reduce the impact of chronic flooding on the multi-modal transportation network.   

Impacts:

Our collaboration team includes partners from the City (Tucson Water, TDOT, PDSD), the County (Regional Flood Control), and Pima Association of Governments (regional transportation authority).  Specific supports from our collaborators are as follows.   As Tucson is currently working to expand green infrastructure along roadways that have traditionally served a dual role as stormwater conduits to the washes, the research project is of particular interest to several groups at the City and County.
Tucson Water Department	We have had conversations informing several leaders about the study.  Tucson Water is particularly interested in the results to inform the forthcoming green infrastructure expansion.
Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT)	We have collected the bus system data and met with the TDOT director, lead engineer, and landscape architect to discuss the project and potential future applications
Planning and Development Services Department (PDSD)	We have had conversations informing several leaders about the study.  Tucson Water is particularly interested in the results to inform the forthcoming green infrastructure expansion.
Pima County Regional Flood Control District (RFCD)	We have got guidance and support to use FLO-2D software for flooding area analysis.
Pima Association of Governments (PAG)	We have collected the traffic data and the bike count data.

Project Details

Project Type:
Small Starts
Project Status:
In Progress
End Date:
November 30,2019
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Small Starts 2018
UTC Funding:
$20,000