Recent and Future Outlooks for Nuisance Flooding Impacts on Roadways on the US East Coast

Academic Article


  • Tidal floods (i.e., “nuisance” flooding) are occurring more often during seasonal high tides or minor wind events, and the frequency is expected to increase dramatically in the coming decades. During these flood events, coastal communities’ roads are often impassable or difficult to pass, thus impacting routine transport needs. This study identifies vulnerable roads and quantifies the risk from nuisance flooding in the Eastern United States by combining public road information from the Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Performance Monitoring System with flood frequency maps, tidal gauge historic observations, and future projections of annual minor tidal flood frequencies and durations. The results indicate that tidal nuisance flooding across the East Coast threatens 7508 miles (12,083 km) of roadways including over 400 miles (644 km) of interstate roadways. From 1996–2005 to 2006–2015, there was a 90% average increase in nuisance floods. With sea level rise, nuisance-flood frequency is projected to grow at all locations assessed. The total induced vehicle-hours of delay due to nuisance flooding currently exceed 100 million hours annually. Nearly 160 million vehicle-hours of delay across the East Coast by 2020 (85% increase from 2010); 1.2 billion vehicle-hours by 2060 (126% increase from 2010); and 3.4 billion vehicle-hours by 2100 (392% increase from 2010) are projected under an intermediate low sea-level-rise scenario. By 2056–2065, nuisance flooding could occur almost daily at sites in Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, the District of Columbia, North Carolina, and Florida under an intermediate sea-level-rise scenario.
  • Authors

  • Jacobs, Jennifer
  • Cattaneo, Lia R
  • Sweet, William
  • Mansfield, Theodore
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • December 2018
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 1
  • End Page

  • 10
  • Volume

  • 2672
  • Issue

  • 2