Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Taking the High Road: Strengthening Coastal Flood Resilience of Transportation Infrastructure

Date and Time
Wednesday, June 29, 2022 - 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Taking the High Road: Strengthening Coastal Flood Resilience of Transportation Infrastructure


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Our transportation infrastructure must be “future proofed” to meet the challenges of rising sea levels and increased flooding.

Bipartisan infrastructure legislation (such as the recently passed IIJA) authorizes a once in a generational investment opportunity in new and upgraded transportation facilities – roads, bridges, rail, ports, airports, and public transit. Many new transportation projects will be in coastal areas, home to almost forty percent of Americans. There is growing evidence that more severe storms and rising sea level pose a risk to transportation infrastructure in coastal areas.

During this webinar, hear from federal and state government and civil society on the steps that governments are and could be taking to make sure that new transportation investments are resilient to risks posed by coastal storm flooding and rising sea levels.

We’ve prepared a primer with the most up-to-date information on threats to coastal transportation infrastructure, the federal policy framework influencing resiliency of coastal transportation infrastructure, and state-level examples of initiatives to incorporate resiliency into decision-making. This will provide helpful context to webinar attendees and anyone else interested in this topic.

Some of the questions addressed in the webinar include:

  • Are there new approaches or tools that can strengthen resilience of transportation investments to coastal storms and rising sea levels?
  • How can mechanisms such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard be used most effectively to reduce risk to transportation investments in coastal areas?
  • How can plans for new transportation infrastructure in coastal areas be coordinated with plans to adapt communities and ecosystems to more severe storms and rising seas?
  • What are the tools, policies, or regulations that have worked or are needed to support coastal resilience planning in transportation infrastructure?

Panelists describe how they incorporate resiliency into transportation decision-making, including the tools they have developed and their applicability across the United States. Panelists will have a facilitated discussion about challenges and opportunities associated with coastal transportation infrastructure, including considerations for stakeholder engagement and equity.

Taking the High Road: Strengthening Coastal Flood Resilience of Transportation Infrastructure is organized by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University in partnership with Resilience Roadmap and the Coastal Flood Resilience Project.

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Jeffrey Peterson

Jeffrey Peterson (moderator), co-facilitator of the Coastal Flood Resilience Project

  • Jeffrey Peterson is a co-facilitator of the Coastal Flood Resilience Project, a network of nonprofit organizations working to strengthen policy and programs to prepare for more severe storms and risings seas. His book A New Coast: Strategies for Responding to Devastating Storms and Rising Seas, was published in 2019 by Island Press. Before retiring from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2017, he was Senior Advisor in the EPA Office of Water responsible for climate change policy. In that capacity, he co-chaired the EPA Sea Level Rise Workgroup and was a member of the Federal Interagency Sea Level Rise Workgroup. He also worked for almost four years at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), where he co-chaired the Interagency Water Resources and Climate Change Workgroup and authored the first national plan addressing water resources management and climate change.


Heather Holsinger

Heather Holsinger, Office of the Secretary of Transportation at U.S. Department of Transportation

  • Heather Holsinger is a Senior Climate Policy Specialist in the Office of Policy, within the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Her work at the Department involves policy development and analysis in the areas of transportation system resilience, decarbonization, and sustainability. Prior to joining the Office of the Secretary, Heather served as an Environmental Protection Specialist on the Sustainable Transportation and Resilience team at the Federal Highway Administration, a Senior Policy Fellow and Program Manager for Adaptation at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, a Senior Analyst with the Natural Resources and Environment team at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), and as an economic and environmental management consultant. She holds Masters Degrees from Duke University in resource economics (MEM) and public policy (MPP) and a BA from the University of Virginia with majors in Economics and Environmental Science.


Jeremy Ketchum

Jeremy Ketchum, California Department of Transportation

  • Jeremy Ketchum is an Assistant Division Chief for the Division of Environmental Analysis at the California Department of Transportation and also serves in an ex-officio Commissioner role as State Transportation Agency representative on the California Coastal Commission.  Mr. Ketchum provides expertise and oversight for a team that develops and maintains environmental standards, policies, procedures, and practices implemented by the California Department of Transportation's 12 District Environmental Branches.


Kym Meyer

Kym Meyer, Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center; Leader of SELC's Government Accountability initiative

  • Kym litigates on a wide range of cases in both federal and state court. Kym is the lead attorney challenging President Trump's rollback of the National Environmental Policy Act. She recently argued before the North Carolina Supreme Court for the North Carolina NAACP in a groundbreaking case that challenges whether a racially gerrymandered legislature can amend the NC constitution. Kym has been involved in many cases involving climate change, including reaching a ground-breaking settlement with the North Carolina DOT which resulted in unprecedented environmental protections, and a number of new statewide climate change policies. Kym got her law degree at Georgetown. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband State Representative Graig Meyer and their Brady Bunch of children.