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Identification and evaluation of flood-avoidance routes in Tucson, AZ

Authors: Ashley Coles*, Texas Christian University
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Transportation Geography, Behavioral Geography
Keywords: floods, hazards, GIS, transportation, behavior
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 2:25 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Virtual Track 10
Presentation Link: Open in New Window
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Campaigns such as “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” encourage motorists to avoid driving into flooded roadways, but vehicle-related flood deaths remain high. Motorists may not have a feasible alternate route, or they may not be aware of one. Furthermore, few studies within hazards research consider how vulnerability changes as an individual moves through space. A survey of Tucson residents included a mapping activity to determine whether the routes they take on a regular basis intersect flood areas, and whether alternate routes exist that avoid flood areas without adding excessive travel time. Of the 452 routes provided, 185 intersect with areas known to flood, exposing 80 percent of study participants to floods during their typical travel. ANOVA revealed no statistically significant differences in exposure rate among groups based on demographic characteristics. Network analyst was used to generate alternate routes that avoid the flood areas and to calculate how much additional time and mileage would be required. Only one route from this sample did not have a calculable alternative. Additionally, many of the alternate routes were shorter than the routes provided by participants, and 80 percent added less than one mile to the trip. Since most of the participants indicated they would be willing to travel at least one mile to avoid floods, they would likely take the safer alternate routes. These findings highlight the potential utility of a decision-support tool to help motorists choose safer flood-avoidance routes during storms.

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