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Adaptation option

Floating or elevated roads (2015)

Road transport infrastructure and evacuation routes that are prone to flooding need to be flood proofed to reduce the vulnerability and negative impacts of flooding of transport routes. Available options to reduce the negative impacts of flooding are not only maintenance of infrastructure and the use of appropriate design and materials, but also creation of floating roads or elevated roads for evacuation routes.

Floating roads are literally roads that float on the water. Ideally they are flexible in both time and space; they do not only float but can also move to accommodate a changing water level. Instead of a fixed bridge it consists of a series of floating pontoons on which vehicles can drive. Elevated roads can look like a fixed bridge, but are longer and form a network of streets leading to higher grounds. An elevated road can also be a road on top of a bank, thus elevated with sand. Elevated (or flood protected) roads are useful when a city is vulnerable for flooding. When regular roads are turned into rivers, the citizens can still evacuate using the elevated (or flood protected) roads. Floating roads are more flexible than bridges and can also be useful as a bypass in the event of road blockages by reasons other than flooding, e.g. due to roadwork on a bridge or road along a waterway.

They might look like a traditional bridge construction but with floating supports instead of fixed ones or it might be a series of floating pontoons over which a vehicle can be driven. The floating road could provide access in areas where water is regularly allowed to overflow as a control mechanism and could be a permanent fixture in areas with weak ground such as peat. This kind of solution to roadworks would minimise disruption, but it would have to be quick to assemble and easy to relocate. Taking less space than traditional alternatives, floating roads would be very much in line with innovative thinking about using space in a variety of ways.

Additional Details
Reference information

Adaptation Details


Stakeholder participation

Stakeholder involvement appears particularly important for elevated roads and in situations when floating roads are a permanent solution.

Success and Limiting Factors

Elevated roads are effective against storm water runoff because they are normally situated higher than floodwaters reach. Because the banks of the floating road are reached via a ramp that can accommodate fluctuations in water level it is an effective adaptation option to flooding. Elevated roads are effective against flooding because they are normally situated higher than the floodwaters reach.

Costs and Benefits

Floating roads are less expensive than bridges. Elevated roads on top of a bank are cheaper to construct than bridge-like roads, but both investments will only be returned once flooding occurs. After construction, both floating and elevated roads do not need more maintenance than any other road.

Local authorities and government are responsible for the realization and management of floating roads and elevated roads.

Implementation Time

2-5 years.

Life Time

More than 20 years.

Reference information

DG CLIMA project "Adaptation Strategy of European Cities"


Infrastructure improvements, evacuation routes, floating roads


Coastal areas, Disaster Risk Reduction, Transport, Urban

Climate impacts

Flooding, Sea Level Rise, Storms

Governance level

Local (e.g. city or municipal level)

Geographic characterisation


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