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The impact of flooding on road transport: A depth-disruption function

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Maria Pregnolato, Dr Alistair FordORCiD, Professor Sean Wilkinson, Professor Richard DawsonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2017 Transport networks underpin economic activity by enabling the movement of goods and people. During extreme weather events transport infrastructure can be directly or indirectly damaged, posing a threat to human safety, and causing significant disruption and associated economic and social impacts. Flooding, especially as a result of intense precipitation, is the predominant cause of weather-related disruption to the transport sector. Existing approaches to assess the disruptive impact of flooding on road transport fail to capture the interactions between floodwater and the transport system, typically assuming a road is fully operational or fully blocked, which is not supported by observations. In this paper we develop a relationship between depth of standing water and vehicle speed. The function that describes this relationship has been constructed by fitting a curve to video analysis supplemented by a range of quantitative data that has be extracted from existing studies and other safety literature. The proposed relationship is a good fit to the observed data, with an R-squared of 0.95. The significance of this work is that it is simple to incorporate our function into existing transport models to produce better estimates of flood induced delays and we demonstrate this with an example from the 28th June 2012 flood in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pregnolato M, Ford A, Wilkinson SM, Dawson RJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment

Year: 2017

Volume: 55

Pages: 67-81

Print publication date: 01/08/2017

Online publication date: 23/06/2017

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Date deposited: 13/07/2017

ISSN (print): 1361-9209

ISSN (electronic): 1879-2340

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.trd.2017.06.020


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