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Virginia CZM Program: 2013 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:VA CZM logo



Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Eastern Shore Transportation Infrastructure Inundation Vulnerability Assessment

Project Description as Proposed:

The Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission (A-NPDC) is proposing to conduct vulnerability analysis of transportation infrastructure within Accomack and Northampton Counties that will identify areas most vulnerable to inundation as result of coastal flooding and elevated sea levels. The project will enhance understanding of transportation infrastructure vulnerability and will engage two counties, 19 incorporated towns, and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in discussions regarding long-term planning that will enhance coastal resiliency within the region. The proposed project will develop a powerful and useful planning and emergency management tool within the Eastern Shore’s coastal communities. Long-range planning and management are essential to adequately mitigate any impacts to the Eastern Shore’s regional character and economy.

Inundation events are among the more frequent, costly, and deadly coastal hazards that can impact coastal communities. Further, future inundation risks may be exacerbated by local changes in climate and sea level. It is important to discern current inundation risks in order to better understand the potential effects of changes to both eustatic and relative sea-level rise and increased storm frequency and intensity.

The Eastern Shore of Virginia consists of more miles of tidal shorelines than any region in Virginia and is extremely vulnerable to flooding generated from both the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Chesapeake Bay to the west. The overall rural character of the region is linked by a vast network of roads, causeways, bridges, and rail that have historically provided access to critical waterfront areas. This network of transportation infrastructure is vital to the regions social, economic, cultural, and historical wealth and it is highly vulnerable to coastal flooding and sea level rise.

The Transportation Infrastructure Inundation Vulnerability Assessment (TIIVA) will consist of several components including:
• Coordinating with VDOT to establish a geographic information system (GIS) protocol for evaluating inundation vulnerability that can be used for the proposed project and within other jurisdictions in Virginia’s coastal zone;
• Implementing the GIS protocol to evaluate inundation vulnerability;
• Generating spatial and tabular data that identify inundation vulnerability;
• Incorporating generated information and outcomes into a summary report;
• Engaging local county and town governments through distribution of final report and GIS data files; and
• Public promotion of TIIVA and NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer via local radio commercials, press releases to local newspapers, and posting announcements to A-NPDC website and social media site.

The information generated from the TIIVA will identify which transportation infrastructure will be inundated at water level scenarios from 0 to 6 feet above MHHW at one-foot increments. Further, the four sea level rise projections for the region included in the 2012 Virginia Recurrent Flooding Study will be incorporated to make projections as to when the various inundation scenarios could occur.

The TIIVA will provide fundamental information for emergency management, transportation planning, and land-use planning. Additionally, the project is expected to raise public awareness by engaging local governments and residents. These efforts are anticipated to result in enhanced coastal resiliency for the Eastern Shore.

VDOT has expressed interest in serving as a project partner with the intent of developing a project protocol that can be replicated within other Virginia jurisdictions at risk to coastal flooding and sea-level rise. Further, A-NPDC will coordinate with VDOT to review and discuss potential changes within VDOT’s operating policies that could augment the agency’s ability to adequately implement long-term planning that will mitigate transportation infrastructure vulnerabilities to the impacts of elevated sea levels. The TIIVA could serve as a pilot project that ultimately could result in enhanced coastal resiliency within Virginia’s coastal zone. 

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Curt Smith, 757.787.2936 x114; 

Project Status:

10/1/2013 - 4/30/2015; Project Complete 

Final Product Received:

Eastern Shore of Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Inundation Vulnerability Assessment - Final Report, May, 2015 (PDF without Appendices)

Appendices of final report - Eastern Shore of Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Inundation Vulnerability Assessment (PDF)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

GIS data was created indicating roads vulnerable to inundation from sea-level rise at 1’ increments up to 6’. The inundation scenarios represent normal tidal and stillwater conditions and do not consider stormwater and groundwater flooding, coastal erosion, storm surge, and assume no changes to the road surface. An additional dataset indicating the status of accessibility to selected communities and facilities at various inundation scenarios was created to inform planners and managers and support management activities.

ES TIIVA Report 
A-NPDC completed a final report and incorporated comments from project partners and local stakeholders. The report summarizes all project outcomes and makes recommendations for how best to utilize and update the assessments.

ES TIIVA Government and Community Engagement
A-NPDC presented summary presentations to the A-NPDC Board, ES Climate Adaptation Working Group, and ES Technical Transportation Advisory Committee. The project was featured at a Virginia Transportation Conference and is scheduled to be featured in an upcoming edition of the
Eastern Shore News. The project’s outcomes were incorporated into the ES Rural Technical Transportation Advisory Committee’s 6-year transportation project prioritization criteria, the ES Hazard Mitigation Plan, and referenced in a Federal Lands Access Program grant application for enhancement of the Chincoteague Causeway (SR-175). The project was disseminated via email to over 300 people included on various distribution lists maintained by A-NPDC and was posted to the A-NPDC website and Facebook page. The assessment datasets are being made available online on the VCZM Coastal GEMS data portal and will be featured on the Eastern Shore of Virginia Coastal Resilience portal which is scheduled to go live in 2016.


Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or email:

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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