Integrating social vulnerability into rehabilitation decisions for transportation structures following hazard
From left: Jessica Boakye (Civil & Environmental Engineering), Scott Jackson (Environmental Conservation), Scott Civjan (Civil & Environmental Engineering)
Transportation structures such as culverts are vulnerable to failure during intense rain events. There is widespread consensus among the scientific community that the intensity and frequency of such events will increase over time due to climate change. As a result, local research has been conducted to determine the risk of failure of culverts based on structural, hydraulic, and geomorphic failure. These culverts (like other local infrastructure) have overgone significant aging and as a result are in varying degrees of deterioration. Therefore, state, and local decision makers must allocate resources to aid in the rehabilitation of such infrastructure. This allocation should be done in an equitable way. This is especially salient because past research has shown that vulnerable populations experience disproportionate hazard impacts. There are many ways to assess vulnerability within populations. A popular technique is using social vulnerability indices which combine social vulnerability factors (e.g., age, race income) to create a quantitative metric which can be used to decide if one location is more vulnerable than other one. This project uses such indices along with structural condition to create a combined vulnerability score for the culvert. Additionally, this project will create a new essential services score defined as the potential to disrupt medical needs, employment, or school. Finally, a case study flooding event will be used to recommend rehabilitation decisions based on the defined vulnerability and essential services scores. This pilot project will be conducted using the case study area of the Deerfield River Watershed where culvert data is available to the research team. Project outcomes are designed to enhance the past work in this area and provide the community with additional information. This work relies on contributions from many fields including engineering, social science, and environmental science and necessitates an interdisciplinary approach and team.