One-year ago, Super Storm Sandy struck a deadly and destructive blow to homes, businesses and communities up and down the East Coast of the United States. As one of the costliest storms in U.S. history, Storm Sandy wreaked havoc on water, power and transportation infrastructure – the lifelines that connect people to one another. To better prepare for extreme weather events in the future and preserve mobility for the customers they serve, members of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) came together in several forums over the past year to share their experiences and lessons learned. “From Super Storm Sandy in the East to deadly tornadoes and floods in the Midwest, severe weather has had a huge impact on transportation infrastructure,” said Patrick D. Jones, Executive Director and CEO of IBTTA. “Because many of our members are on the front-lines responding to these natural disasters, we thought it was important to facilitate these discussions to support effective responses to severe weather events around the globe.”
In January, just months after Storm Sandy devastated a swath of the Northeast, IBTTA held a forum to capture the front-line success stories and lessons learned from affected tolling authorities. “What we saw unfold with Sandy was something we had never seen before in any of our careers, and maybe in two or three generations,” said James Fortunato, Vice President and Chief of Operations at MTA Bridges and Tunnels in New York.
Super Storm Sandy delivered a harsh lesson “about the need to prepare for extreme weather such as these kinds of super storms in a way we didn’t previously,” said Ronnie Hakim, Executive Director of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
During IBTTA’s Organization Management Workshop in Baltimore in June, IBTTA assembled communication experts from transportation authorities to share best practices for communicating with the public during a severe weather event using both traditional and social media. A summary of these discussions appears in a Thematic Report.
And, during IBTTA’s 81st Annual Meeting, in Vancouver, Canada in September, Bryan Norcross, Senior Hurricane Specialist for The Weather Channel, led a discussion on “Resilience Around the World: Protecting our Assets and Our Customers from Severe Weather.” The session focused on a variety of severe weather challenges and the steps that transportation agencies are taking to address them. The Thematic Report from that session will be available on IBTTA’s website by early November.
The January 2013 Forum on Super Storm Sandy and the other sessions throughout the year are part of a dialogue to build greater resilience and adaptability across the tolling industry. IBTTA is committed to helping transportation agencies around the world prepare for severe weather events now and in the future.