Addressing climate change in planning and project documents

Mitigating and adapting to climate change is an important part of the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) mission. We are committed to reducing emissions and building and maintaining a resilient transportation system. To these ends, we incorporate climate change considerations into our planning and project evaluations.

Find our policies and procedures below, as well as links to reports we have authored and additional references.


Policies and procedures

During planning

Guidance for Considering Impacts of Climate Change in WSDOT Plans (pdf 606 kb) – Refer to this document for direction on considering climate change impacts during the transportation planning process.

For projects

During the environmental review of WSDOT projects, project teams need to consider greenhouse gas emissions and future climate change.

Greenhouse gas evaluations

Read our Guidance for Project-Level Greenhouse Gas Evaluations under NEPA and SEPA (pdf 294 kb) for guidance on addressing greenhouse gas emissions at the project level.

WSDOT’s direction is scaled to the NEPA classification of the project. Greenhouse gas analyses are typically completed using the same tools and methods as air quality and energy analyses. Find more information about these parallel analyses on our Air, Noise, and Energy page.

Climate change evaluation

Follow the Guidance for Project-Level Climate Change Evaluation (pdf 1.6 mb) to address the effects of climate change on your project and document those considerations in the project’s environmental documentation. For information applicable to your project, refer to the following information sources:

  • A GIS layer showing the locations of climate change threats on the state transportation network according to WSDOT’s 2011 Statewide Climate Vulnerability Assessment is available in two locations:
    • WSDOT staff can access the layer through the internal GIS workbench in the Environmental section, under Climate.
    • Analysts outside WSDOT can find this layer in the Community Planning Portal.
  • The University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group develops state-specific anticipated climate change information. See their Climate Impacts in Brief page for a summary of anticipated climate changes in the Washington.

For information on addressing climate resilience in hydraulics work, contact the WSDOT headquarters Hydraulics Section.



Climate Impacts Vulnerability Assessment Report (pdf 5.7 mb) – FHWA funded WSDOT’s 2011 statewide study of the potential impact of changing climate on WSDOT assets. 

Creating a Resilient Transportation Network in Skagit County: Using Flood Studies to Inform Transportation Asset Management – WSDOT and other agencies applied the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) framework for adaption planning and decision making in the Skagit Basin. This framework helps transportation planners better connect information across sectors (in this case hydraulic data) and coordinate long-term solutions to extreme events.

Climate Change and Innovative Stormwater Control (3.2 mb) – Compares the conceptual climate risk assessment models developed in the United States and Europe for transportation infrastructure and provides additional feedback on tools developed by the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA).  This report is part of an information exchange between WSDOT, FHWA, and Rijkswaterstaat, the highway agency of The Netherlands.


U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Highways and Climate Change – Provides FHWA research on climate change issues.

Transit and Climate Change Adaptation: Synthesis of FTA-Funded Pilot Projects – FTA's Climate Change Adaptation Initiative commits $1 million for seven pilot projects aimed at identifying and addressing climate change impacts. This report synthesizes seven geographically-diverse pilot projects and presents the collective findings.

The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO) climate change website provides technical assistance on climate change, energy efficiency, energy security, infrastructure adaptation, and alternative vehicles and fuels.