VTrans is Virginia's Transportation Plan. It is prepared for the Commonwealth Transportation Board by the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment.

VTrans Megatrend 1: Climate Patterns

In the first step for the Draft Policy for the Development and Monitoring of VTrans Risk & Opportunity Register VTrans identifies four Megatrends (ClimateTechnological AdvancementsConsumption Patterns, and Socio-Demographic Changes). This webpage focuses on Megatrend # 1: Climate Patterns which includes the following Macrotrend.

  • Increase in Flooding Risk due to sea level rise, storm surge, and inland/riverine flooding

Vulnerability is defined as a function of exposure to a hazard(s), the sensitivity to the given hazard, and adaptive capacity or the system’s ability to cope. This definition is based on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) definition that breaks down vulnerability as a function of an asset or system’s exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity.

Resiliency is defined as the capability to anticipate, prepare for, respond to and recover from extreme weather event(s) with minimum damage to social well-being, infrastructure, the economy, and the environment.

Given the uncertainty, three estimates (High, Medium, and Low) are developed for each of the Macrotrends. Cumulative impacts of these three and other macrotrends are estimated in Step 3 of the policy.

Macrotrend # 1: Increase in Flooding Risk

Macrotrend Drivers

  • Emissions of heat-trapping gases (also known as greenhouse gases)
  • Changes in land use that make land reflect more or less sunlight energy

Number of Roadways At-Risk from Flooding

Methodology and Results

VTrans Vulnerability Assessment focuses on flooding risks associated with three hazards: (1) sea level rise; (2) storm surge; and, (3) inland/riverine flooding.

What It Means for Transportation System (In Isolation)

Increase in Flooding Risk is estimated to impact nearly 1,100 directional miles, 13,100 directional miles, and 17,900 directional miles respectively due to sea level rise, storm surge, and inland/riverine flooding.  

Please refer to:

VTrans Vulnerability Assessment Interactive Weighting Tool

The Vulnerability Assessment Results represent the approach best suited for a screening level assessment of the vulnerability of Virginia’s transportation system to current and future flood hazards. In recognition that users and intended purposes vary, the VTrans Vulnerability Assessment Weighting Tool was developed to allow for customized weightings to be applied in real time.


Sea-level Rise


Intermediate-High Scenario

Select weights for the following three components ensuring the total adds up to 100%



Adaptive Capacity

  VTrans Vulnerability Assessment Interactive Weighting Tool Methodology

Cumulative Impacts of these Macrotrends on Virginia’s Transportation Goals

Cumulative impacts of this and other macrotrends are identified in Step 3 of the Policy for Development and Monitoring of VTrans Risk & Opportunity Register.

Refer to the Long-term Risk & Opportunity Register page for more information.

Noteworthy Items

  • The intent is to prepare, not predict. This risk-based approach allows for identification and analysis of a range of potential impacts to help determine temporal proximity and relative priority.
  • Policy drivers can modify trends to achieve more desirable outcomes.
  • The Policy for Development and Monitoring of VTrans Risk & Opportunity Register allows for monitoring and annual reporting of these trends.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Looking for more specific information about the Draft Policy for Development and Monitoring of VTrans Long-term Risk & Opportunity Register? Find more information on our Frequently Asked Questions page