More frequent and severe storm events, with associated flooding at culverts and bridges, have focused public works managers` attention on the vulnerability of roadway infrastructure. Public works professionals at both state and municipal levels have a growing concern that our roadway stream crossings (bridges and culverts) are becoming increasingly susceptible to storm damage. With many stream crossing structures undersized and at risk, and with limited fiscal resources, maintaining sustainable infrastructure calls for proactive and innovative approach to flood hazard management.

The need to address the sustainability of stream crossings will only increase, given the recent attention to stream crossing design by environmental agencies and water resource stakeholder organizations. In New England, state environmental agencies have either adopted or drafted regulations promoting wildlife passage at stream crossings, and the New England District of the US Army Corps of Engineers has issued state General Permits that apply habitat-based stream crossing standards for new and replacement culverts and bridges. This evolving regulatory setting also calls for a proactive and innovative approach to the design of stream crossings.

In this case, prudent flood management and responsible environmental stewardship work hand-in-hand. Measures designed to reduce flood vulnerability at road/stream crossings provide potential “win-win” opportunities: suitably designed replacement structures can have positive benefits for both flood control and wildlife passage. The technology for assessment and design of structures to provide greater flood resiliency and wildlife passage is an evolving scientific/ engineering field...and CEI is on the cutting-edge of this endeavor.

CEI has been active in the exploration of methods to assess culvert vulnerability, prioritize structures needing replacement, and address new regulatory standards that require consideration of wildlife in the design of new and replacement structures. CEI assisted MassDOT with the development of a stream crossing handbook that provides guidance in the review of existing structures, the evaluation of site constraints, and the selection and design of new and replacement structures to address both flood management and wildlife accommodation objectives.

 

For more information on flooding and culvert management, please contact Matthew Lundsted, P.E., CFM at mlundsted@ceiengineers.com or Michael Ohl, P.E., CFM at mohl@ceiengineers.com or call 800-725-2550.

Click here to go to CEI's Flood Management Services page.

Click here to go to CEI's Stormwater Engineering Services page.