Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019ME122B

Fishy business: identifying synergies between researchers and stakeholders for improved transportation infrastructure and ecological resilience through coordinated road culvert improvement

Institute: Maine
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-06-01 End Date: 2020-05-31
Total Federal Funds: $35,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $77,805

Principal Investigators: Dr. Samuel Roy

Abstract: We propose to develop a decision support tool (DST) to help stakeholders, researchers, and practitioners recognize potential infrastructural, ecological, and cost-saving benefits of coordinated road culvert replacement planning. Stakeholder partners in this project include the Maine office of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a group that engages in environmental restoration projects for Maine rivers; the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT), a state agency that is responsible for maintaining a safe and reliable transportation system for the state of Maine; and the Maine Municipal Association (MMA), a group representing culvert infrastructure interests at the town/city scale associated with heightened flooding risks. Each organization recognizes potential synergies between their differing culvert replacement priorities. Our research team plans to facilitate coordinated culvert decisions through practitioner-stakeholder-researcher partnerships by leveraging our expertise in stakeholder engagement, natural resource economics, hydrology, big data analytics, machine learning, and decision support. We propose an iterative approach to stakeholder engagement: framing the research question around the current needs indicated by MaineDOT, TNC, and MMA; integrating stakeholder feedback, data, and other resources into our research design and decision support products; and providing complete transparency into our work. Based on current stakeholder guidance, we have begun to develop a model to identify the current state of culvert infrastructure vulnerability to flooding events, the ecological resilience of rivers based on the level of flow obstruction by culverts, and the monetary costs necessary to make improvements to both. This model can then be used to analyze “what if†scenarios that track the relative changes in infrastructure vulnerability, river connectivity, and cost based on the decisions of the user. We will consult with stakeholders during all stages of DST development to ensure that all objectives are met.