Estimating Bridge Scour in New York from Historical U.S. Geological Survey Streamflow Measurements

by Gerard K. Butch, U.S. Geological Survey, Albany, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hydraulic Engineering


Historical streamflow measurements by the U.S. Geological Survey an bridge-inspection reports by the New York State Department of Transportation are being used to estimate scour at 31 bridges in New York State. Streamflow measurements that were made before, during, or after high flows are used to estimate scour and to define hydraulic properties associated with floods. Clear-water scour is common at most sites; local scour holes that formed during high flows did not refill after subsequent high flows. The 31 streambeds are armored by gravel; median particle size ranges form 22 to 68 millimeters. Streambed elevations measured after a high flow are assumed to represent the elevations during peak flow. Measurements at several bridges indicate scour by multiple high flows, severe floods, and debris. Three high flows at State Route 23 over the Otselic River in Cortland County produced 6.1 feet of local scour and partly exposed concrete pilings below the footing. Although the recurrence interval of each flow was less than 10 years, a 30-degree angle between the flow and the pier increased the tendency of the streambed to scour. State Route 427 over the Chemung River in Chemung County survived the 1972 flood ( recurrence interval greater than 100 years) because pilings supported the undermined piers. The maximum local scour during the 1972 flood was estimated to be 5.4 feet. A local-scour hole, 2.4 feet deep before the flood, was deepened to 7.8 feet.

Subject Headings: Scour | Geological surveys | Flow measurement | Streamflow | Bridges | Hydraulic properties | Historic buildings | Surveys (non-geomatic) | New York | United States

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