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Portion of Gulf Coast rail lines highly susceptible to floods, USDOT study shows


About 9 percent of rail lines in the U.S. Gulf Coast region are at or below four feet in elevation and could be vulnerable to flooding due to a future sea level rise and natural sinking of the area's land mass, according to a recent U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) study.

Entitled "The Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure: Gulf Coast Study, Phase I," the study also found that 27 percent of major roads and 72 percent of area ports are at or below four feet in elevation and face the same vulnerabilities. The study examined a 48-county area in four states between Galveston, Texas, and Mobile, Ala.

Based on 21 simulation models and a range of emissions scenarios, study results show potential changes in climate over the next 50 to 100 years could disrupt the region's transportation services. Officials at the USDOT — which conducted the study in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, and state and local researchers — hope results will help state and local officials while developing transportation plans and determining investments.

"This study provides transportation planners in the Gulf Coast region with valuable information that will assist them as they make decisions for the future," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters in a prepared statement.

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More News from 3/13/2008