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How climate change is hitting highways

Resilience — essentially risk management — is an increasingly critical consideration for road builders.

Climate change is impacting roads in surprising ways, and contractors and engineers need to be prepared for extreme weather, sea level rise and hotter temperatures, said a panelist at the National Institute of Building Sciences’ Building Innovation Conference in Washington, D.C., on May 23.

The average cost per mile of a two-lane road is now about $10 million, said Amir Golalipour, highway research engineer in the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Infrastructure Research and Development. It’s important to design and build resilient roads because, among other reasons, the FHWA simply does not have the resources to keep replacing them.

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