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Bridge Definition
From a hydraulic perspective, a bridge is
defined as:
A structure built over a depression or
obstacle for passageway.
Part of a stream crossing system that
includes the approach roadway across the
floodplain and any openings
Involves the hydraulic considerations for bridge
planning and design
Hydraulic Considerations:
Discharge patterns
Water levels
Erosion and Sedimentation
Local pier scour
Channel Shift and General Scour
Exposure of Foundation by Channel Bed Degradation
Floating Debris Action on Superstructure
Bridge Waterway and Length
The determination of adequate waterway openings for river crossings is
essential to the design of safe and economical bridges. Hydrologic and
hydraulic studies of bridge sites are necessary in the determination of the
bridge length (Refer Section 3). To avoid general scour in a bridge crossing,
appropriate bridge length is necessary. From an economical point of view,
a shorter bridge is preferred if there are no hydraulic constraints regarding
bridge length.
1. Approximate River Width, B

B = (c) Q3/4 *

Q = discharge
c = coefficient ranging from 0.5 0.8, determined
considering flood plain obstruction (refer to Table 3-1 of DGCS Volume 3 Water Projects)

2. Desirable minimum bridge span length, L

L = 20 + 0.005Q **
Hydrologic and Hydraulic Analysis for Bridges
Hydrologic and Hydraulic Analysis for Bridges
Methods of determination of Design Flood Level (DFL)
Mannings Formula

V = velocity, m/s
n = Mannings roughness coefficient
R = hydraulic radius = A/P, m
P = wetted perimeter, m
S = slope of the energy grade line, m/m (For steady uniform flow, S
= channel slope, m/m)
The selection of Mannings n is generally based on observation;
however, considerable experience is essential in selecting appropriate n
values. Typical ranges of n values for various types of channels and
floodplains is given in Table
4-2, Table 4-3, Table 4-4 and Table 4-5.(DGCS Vol. 3)
Design Floods
Design flood flows at the site using an approved
method applicable to the river are essential in the
hydrologic and hydraulic analysis.

Where floods exceeding the design flood have

occurred or where super floods will cause extensive
damage to the adjoining property or the loss of
costly structure, a larger waterway opening may be
As per AASHTO provisions for hydrologic studies, flood
flows shall be investigated in the hydrologic studies:
For assessing flood hazards and meeting flood plain management
For assessing risks to highway users and damage to the bridge and its
roadway approaches overtopping flood and/or the design flood
level for bridge scour.
For assessing catastrophic flood damage at high risk sites.
For investigating the adequacy of bridge foundations to resist scour.
To satisfy agency design policies and criteria design floods for
waterway opening and scour for the functional classes of highways.
To calibrate water surface profiles and to evaluate the performance
of existing structures historical floods.
To evaluate environmental conditions- low or base flow information
and in estuarine crossing, the spring and tide range.
Some common terminologies for different
types of flood levels include:
Ordinary Water Level or Normal Water Level (OWL/NWL)

Height of water level in the river under normal condition

Maximum Flood Level (MFL)

Highest recorded flood level. Note that where gauging is not

available, this might need to be based on anecdotal observations
from the community. However, the values have to be verified or
validated by the hydrologist. An equivalent return period may be
computed which will guide the hydrologist whether the maximum
flood level shall be used as the design flood level.
Some common terminologies for different
types of flood levels include:
Design Flood

Discharge used to size the capacity of the bridge. The design flood
frequencies for different road types is provided in Table 3.2.5-1.

Check Flood

A less frequent flood which generate greater runoff than the design
flood and may cause catastrophic effect on the bridge (refer to
Volume 3 and Section 2.3 of AASHTO LRFD 2012)
Some common terminologies for different
types of flood levels include:
Design Flood Level (DFL)

Design flood level is calculated from the design flood discharge identified above.
The Design Flood Level (DFL) will be the reference from which the freeboard will be
measured, refer Section 4.4. The hydrologist and the bridge engineer shall decide
whether to use the maximum flood level or not if it is higher than the design flood
level considering several factors such as the topography of the area and other
aspects which will be greatly affected by raising the bridge excessively high.

Ultimate Limit State Flood (ULSF)

Design flood against which the bridge is structurally designed to withstand the
force of the water. Overtopping can occur in this event, but the bridge structure
must be designed to withstand the loading.
Table 3.2.5-1 Design Flood Frequencies (Minimum Requirements) for Bridges

Road River Bridge Drainage

Structure Hydraulic Scour

Design Check Design Check Design Check

Flood Flood Flood Flood Flood Flood

Expressway 100 yr 200 yr *100 yr *500 yr 25 yr 50 yr

National Road 50 yr 100 yr *100 yr *500 yr 10 yr 25 yr

Other Roads 25 yr 50 yr 50 yr 100 yr 5 yr 10 yr

*or from an overtopping flood of lesser recurrence level, whichever is the

more severe based on AASHTO LRFD 2012 Sec Bridge Scour
Depth of water
surface to
scoured bed

Depth of
removed below
normal bed level

Cross-section at a bridge waterway opening

Hydraulic Design Data
Contraction Scour
Left Channel Right
Input Data
Average Depth (m): 10.59 6.79
Approach Velocity (m/s): 6.80 4.53
Br Average Depth (m): 9.68
BR Opening Flow (m3/s): 1080 0.00
BR Top WD (m): 147.87
Grain Size D50 (mm): 2.40 2.40 2.40
Approach Flow (m3/s): 9981.22 818.78
Approach Top WD (m): 138.51 26.64
K1 Coefficient: 0.640 0.640
Scour Depth Ys (m): 1.19
Critical Velocity (m/s): 1.23
Equation: Live

Pier Scour
All piers have the same scour depth
Input Data
Pier Shape: Round nose
Pier Width (m): 2.00
Grain Size D50 (mm): 2.40000
Depth Upstream (m): 10.50
Velocity Upstream (m/s): 6.49
K1 Nose Shape: 1.00
Pier Angle: 0.00
Pier Length (m): 10.00
K2 Angle Coef: 1.00
K3 Bed Cond Coef: 1.10
Grain Size D90 (mm):
K4 Armouring Coef: 1.00
Scour Depth Ys (m): 6.49
Froude #: 0.64
Equation: CSU equation

Combined Scour Depths

Pier Scour + Contraction Scour (m):

Channel: 7.67
Vertical clearance between the Design Flood Level, DFL, (or the Maximum Flood Level, MFL)
and the (soffit) of the lowest member of the bridge superstructure shall not be less than 1.50
m for rivers carrying debris and 1.00 m for other bridges. For definition of DFL and MFL, refer
to Section 3.

For navigable channels, the required vertical clearance, based on HPCG/CG-8, Memorandum
Circular Number 01-14, Navigational Clearance for Road Bridges and Other Structures over
Navigational Inland Waters, 16 April, 2012 shall be:
Vertical Clearance = HWL + HV + K
HWL = highest water level recorded within the AOR (Area of
HV = height of vessel
K = is a constant 1 meter allowance

For bridges in the coastal environment, adequate freeboard shall be provided to prevent wave
impact on the bridge superstructure under combined action of high tide, storm surge and design
Thickness of riprap aprons
should be at least twice
the D50 size of the stones

Guide to Bridge Hydraulics (1973) by TAC

Velocity Stone Size
(m/s) (D50) mm
3 0.30
4 0.55
5 0.90
6 1.30
Loose boulder apron
Gabions and mattresses
Articulated blocks
Alternatives methods
Boulder riprap
Grouted riprap
Reinforced concrete
Type of Revetment Allowable Slope (H:V)
Sodding <2 Flatter than 2:1
Wooden Pile Fence <4 Flatter than 0.6:1
Dry Boulder Riprap <5 Flatter than 1.5:1
Gabion (spread type) <5 Flatter than 1.5:1
Grouted Riprap (spread type) >5 Flatter than 1.5:1
Gabion (pile up type) <6.5 1:1 to 1.5:1
Grouted Riprap (wall type) >5 Steeper than 1:1
Rubble Concrete >5 Steeper than 1:1
Stone Masonry >5 Steeper than 1:1
Crib Wall >6 Steeper than 1:1
Reinforced Concrete with sheet pile >6 Steeper than 1:1