As of October 1, 2016, the SWUTC concluded its 28 years of operation and is no longer an active center of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The archived SWUTC website remains available here.


SWUTC Education Initiative Description

Bush School Capstone Course Support:  The Regional Impact of Climate Change on Transportation Infrastructure and Decision Making

University: Texas A&M University

Principal Investigator:
Eric Lindquist
Texas A&M University

Funding Source: USDOT

Total Project Cost: $14,550

Project Number: 476660-00010

Date Started: 9/1/08

Estimated Completion Date: 8/31/09

Initiative Summary

This project focused on the current and future institutional structures and legislative authority necessary to implement the major infrastructure investments for resilience and recovery in response to the impact of climate change in the Houston-Galveston area in Texas. This project supported a Capstone course (PSAA 675-605) for the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, and was student led, under the direction of a faculty member, in conjunction with the Houston Galveston Area Council (HGAC).

The MPSA program’s Capstone Seminar is a two-semester project in which a team of students worked for a real-world client to help solve a real-world management and/or policy issue. It culminated in a formal, written report and an oral presentation in which that report was delivered to the client. Although the projects were supervised by a faculty member, the students typically had broad discretion in allocating tasks among themselves, in communicating with clients, and in establishing and ensuring compliance with deadlines for the accomplishment of different phases of the project.

Preliminary consultation with the HGAC resulted in the identification of the general problem to be addressed. The HGAC and its constituents are concerned that the region may not have the proper and appropriate institutional structures in place to direct major investments for recovery and for developing resilience in response to the impacts of climate change. As the impact from climate change is perceived as a regional problem that does not adhere to institutional boundaries, the Council is also concerned that they may not have the necessary legislative authority to share revenues and plan collectively to address these challenges.

Project Scope:
This project is a graduate practicum effort focusing on the problems identified above and addresses the overall SWUTC theme for ‘Transportation Solutions to Enhance Prosperity and the Quality of Life.” The educational nature of this initiative specifically addresses the Transportation Workforce Development strategic thrust. It is anticipated that this project will represent the first of many Capstone courses focusing on significant issues in the Houston-Galveston area.

Implementation of Initiative Outcomes:
The Capstone students presented their final project results in two venues: 1) the standard end of the year Capstone project presentation at the Bush School, and 2) for the client and invited guests in the study area.  Results were also be published in a professional research report and disseminated to the client, project stakeholders, and made available on the Bush School website.

Impacts/Benefits of Implementation:
Results from this research were of direct use to the client as well as the broader transportation planning and policy community. This research provided insight into the significant questions identified in the TRB Special Report 290, “The Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation,” and the US Climate Change Science Program’s, “The Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure:  Gulf Coast Study, Phase I” and will be of considerable value to these agencies as extensions of their efforts.

Web Links:
Final Report