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Bridge scour monitoring methods at three sites in Wisconsin

January 3, 2006
Of the nearly 11,500 bridges in Wisconsin, 89 have been assessed with critical scour conditions. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Marathon County Highway Department, and the Jefferson County Highway Department, performed routine monitoring of streambed elevations for three bridges. Two monitoring approaches were employed: (1) manual monitoring using moderately simple equipment, and (2) automated monitoring, using moderately sophisticated electronic equipment. The results from all three sites demonstrate that both techniques can produce reasonable measurements of streambed elevation. The manual technique has a lower annual operating cost, and is useful for cases where documentation of long-term trends is desired. The automated technique has a higher annual operating cost and is useful for real-time monitoring of episodic events with short time durations.