CDOT Resilience Program

Risk & Resilience Program Overview

For more information about CDOT's Resilience Program, please contact William Johnson, at 303-512-4808, or via email: [email protected].

What is Resilience?A road severely damaged by the 2013 floods

The State of Colorado defines resilience as “the ability of communities to rebound, positively adapt to, or thrive amidst changing conditions or challenges—including human-caused and natural disasters—and to maintain quality of life, healthy growth, durable systems, economic vitality, and conservation of resources for present and future generations.”

For transportation systems, resilience is the ability to keep our roads open and functional in the face of unexpected events and challenges. This can involve resilience of the assets themselves (e.g., the design and maintenance of bridges to withstand rare, yet catastrophic flood events), or adaptability of CDOT’s operations, maintenance, planning, etc., in the face of stressors and challenges. While the concept of resilience is not limited to physical threats, this is the main focus of resilience work in transportation.

Why being resilient mattersCDOT crews work to clear US24 after a rock slide near Florissant

Resiliency became a priority for CDOT after 2013 flooding event along the Front Range caused severe damage to our roadway network, impacting roughly 500 miles of road and 50 bridges, and requiring more than $700 million in emergency repairs. CDOT, businesses, and the traveling public all felt the financial impact and inconvenience.

Building on lessons learned from this and other events, CDOT has begun assessing its risk to threats to better prepare the transportation system in advance. Every day the system faces threats large and small – like floods, high winds, avalanches, rockfall, and other unexpected events. While many of these threats are unavoidable, their effects do not have to be catastrophic or cause extended road closures. Building resilience is like an insurance policy – by identifying a threat and implementing a mitigation measure, we can reduce the risk to our system in the future. Pro-active management of threats before they occur minimizes the resources needed to rebuild and restore service, minimizes the disruptions to people’s lives and to business activity, and lowers the cost to CDOT and the traveling public in the long run. National research on disaster damage and federal government spending suggests that every $1 spent on pre-disaster preparedness is worth $6 in terms of future damage it mitigates.

This is why CDOT is planning for these adverse events to ensure our transportation system is better able to withstand the impact of events and recover quickly when they happen – ensuring that the routes we use every day to access our homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals remain safe and accessible to all.

CDOT Resilience Policy Directive

On Nov. 15, 2018, the Transportation Commission adopted Policy Directive (PD) 1905.0 “Building Resilience into Transportation Infrastructure and Operations”, which directs CDOT to support state resilience goals by incorporating resilience in strategic decisions about transportation assets and operations. The policy directive builds on the Department’s efforts since the 2013 floods to formalize and encourage future resilience activities at CDOT so that the department can manage risks and successfully adapt to future challenges. 

The Multimodal Planning Branch in the Division of Transportation Development (DTD) is taking the lead to work with specific branches and programs to implement the vision in PD 1905.0. In December 2018, the Resilience Program in MPB launched a 2-year project to define a standard for risk assessments in Colorado. Another project that began in early 2020 aims to demonstrate how to use information about risk and resiliency in core CDOT functions such as planning, asset management, operations, maintenance and design and construction. That project includes five, proof-of-concept case studies and will be complete by the end of calendar 2021. DTD has also produced an interactive web map (linked above) that allows users to view various naturals hazards and other threats as they relate to CDOT assets.

The I-70 Risk and Resilience Pilot Study

The I-70 Risk and Resilience Pilot, completed in late 2017, builds on the work completed by CDOT in the wake of the catastrophic 2013 flood event. It is a first-of-its kind approach, meant to address vulnerabilities in Colorado’s highway infrastructure by quantifying the risk and developing mitigation measures. 450 miles of I-70 from the Utah border in the west to the Kansas border in the east have been analyzed for the potential of future damage and closures from physical threats. The pilot considers multiple significant threats—ranging from avalanche to wildfire, as well as human-made threats, such as high vehicle bridge strikes, and provides a quantitative, data-driven approach to quantifying risk and calculating benefit cost of alternative mitigation measures. The final report can be accessed here.

Following the completion of the "I-70 Risk and Resiliency Pilot," CDOT has spent over a year refining the model and assumptions it used in the pilot to document a standardized approach and assumptions for calculating risk and resiliency on the state's transportation system. The end product is a written manual for calculating risks to CDOT's system to natural hazards, and the benefit cost of investing in resiliency measures to harden its system. The manual was published in Summer 2020 and is accompanied by a set of excel spreadsheets to help automate the calculations. These tools, along with several others, are linked below. Click here to watch "CDOT Tools to Support Resilient Transportation Investment."

Tool Tutorial Link (if applicable)
Risk and Resilience Analysis Procedure: A Manual for Calculating Risk to CDOT Assets from Flooding, Rockfall, and Fire Debris Flow
Risk and Resilience Excel Spreadsheet Tool
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Tutorial Video for Risk and Resilience Excel Spreadsheet Tool
Asset Criticality Model for System Resilience
Risk and Resiliency Project Scoring Tool
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Tutorial Video for Risk and Resiliency Project Scoring Tool
4 R Framework for Identifying and Evaluating Resiliency in Transportation System Assets and Organizations
CDOT Detour Identification Tool
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Tutorial Video for CDOT Detour Identification Tool
CDOT Asset Resiliency Mapping Application
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Tutorial Video for CDOT Asset Resiliency Mapping Application