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The effects of road crossings on prairie stream habitat and function

June 29, 2010

Improperly designed stream crossing structures may alter the form and function of stream ecosystems and habitat and prohibit the movement of aquatic organisms. Stream sections adjoining five concrete box culverts, five low-water crossings (concrete slabs vented by one or multiple culverts), and two large, single corrugated culvert vehicle crossings in eastern Kansas streams were compared to reference reaches using a geomorphologic survey and stream classification. Stream reaches were also compared upstream and downstream of crossings, and crossing measurements were used to determine which crossing design best mimicked the natural dimensions of the adjoining stream. Four of five low-water crossings, three of five box culverts, and one of two large, single corrugated pipe culverts changed classification from upstream to downstream of the crossings. Mean riffle spacing upstream at low-water crossings (8.6 bankfull widths) was double that of downstream reaches (mean 4.4 bankfull widths) but was similar upstream and downstream of box and corrugated pipe culverts. There also appeared to be greater deposition of fine sediments directly upstream of these designs. Box and corrugated culverts were more similar to natural streams than low-water crossings at transporting water, sediments, and debris during bankfull flows.

Publication Year 2010
Title The effects of road crossings on prairie stream habitat and function
DOI 10.1080/02705060.2010.9664398
Authors Wesley W. Bouska, Timothy Keane, Craig P. Paukert
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Freshwater Ecology
Index ID 70150460
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta