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Streambed scour evaluations and conditions at selected bridge sites in Alaska, 2016–17

December 30, 2019

Stream stability, flood frequency, and streambed scour potential were evaluated at 20 Alaskan river- and stream-spanning bridges lacking a quantitative scour analysis or having unknown foundation details. Three of the bridges had been assessed shortly before the study described in this report but were re-assessed using different methods or data. Channel instability related to mining may affect scour at one site, while channel instability related to flow distribution changes can be seen at one site. One bridge was closed because of abutment scour prior to the study. Otherwise, channels generally showed stable bed elevations.

Contraction and abutment scour were calculated for all 20 bridges, and pier scour was calculated for the 2 bridges that had piers. Vertical contraction (pressure flow) scour was calculated for one site at which the modeled water surface was higher than the superstructure of the bridge. Hydraulic variables for the scour calculations were derived from one-dimensional and two-dimensional hydraulic models of the 1- and 0.2-percent annual exceedance probability floods (also known as the 100- and 500-year floods, respectively). Scour also was calculated for large recorded floods at two sites.

At many sites, overflow of road approaches relieves the bridge during floods and lessens the potential for scour. Two-dimensional hydraulic models are superior to one-dimensional hydraulic models at distributing flow between bridges, road approaches, and floodplains, and therefore likely produce more reasonable scour values at sites with substantial floodplain flow.

Publication Year 2019
Title Streambed scour evaluations and conditions at selected bridge sites in Alaska, 2016–17
DOI 10.3133/sir20195110
Authors Robin A. Beebee, Karenth L. Dworsky, Schyler J. Knopp
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2019-5110
Index ID sir20195110
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center Water