Road covered in water and debris

Flooding on N.C. 12 on Pea Island in Dare County. Photo courtesy of NCDOTcommunications/Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

As local governments throughout the South Atlantic struggle to adapt to sea-level rise, they’re faced with a number of legal challenges. I’m sure you can think of at least 1 regularly flooded coastal road where you wonder why the city hasn’t just abandoned it. There’s a great paper out in the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law that looks specifically at sea-level rise adaptation and roads in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The work was funded by NOAA and the four state Sea Grants. Hat tip to Bill O’Beirne for letting me know about it.

The paper looks at the various incentives and disincentives for local government adaptation activities related to roads, points out some forward thinking approaches by various municipalities, and provides a suggested way toward an “adaptive authority to abandon”.

Roads to Nowhere in Four States: State and Local Governments in the Atlantic Southeast Facing Sea-Level Rise