Tradeoffs between optimality and equity in transportation network protection against sea level rise

Jiayun Sun, Aaron C.H. Chow, Samer Michel Madanat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transportation equity is an essential aspect of urban transportation planning. With climate change becoming inevitable, coastal cities are considering the mitigation of the impact of sea level rise on infrastructure. Transportation equity and sea level rise adaptation are usually considered separately. However, research pointed out that these two challenges could have considerable overlap and interaction. The present paper discusses transportation equity issues resulting from the impact of sea level rise and associated protection strategies. A case study of the San Francisco Bay Area points out cases where transportation equity can be negatively impacted when the optimal protection strategy against sea level rise is implemented. An integrated hydrodynamic and transportation model system is used in the present paper to demonstrate several scenarios where the most efficient protection strategies for the whole region increase the inequity that exists between the disadvantaged communities and other communities. Nevertheless, this impact can be mitigated with a relatively small addition to the protection strategy. The paper suggests that transportation equity cannot be overlooked in planning climate adaptation, as even the protection plan that maximizes benefits for the region may negatively impact the most vulnerable communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-208
Number of pages14
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Accessibility
  • Mobility
  • Sea level rise
  • Transportation equity
  • Transportation planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Transportation
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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