Interaction of Bridge Contraction Scour and Pier Scour in a Laboratory River Model

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Hong, SeungHo
Sturm, Terry W.
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The engineering design of a hydraulic structure such as a river bridge requires consideration of the factors that affect the safety of the structure. Among them, one of the most important variables is bridge foundation scour. However, engineering experience seems to indicate that computation of scour depth using current scour formulas tends to overpredict scour in comparison to field measurements. The result can be an overdesigned bridge foundation that increases the cost of the bridge. One possible reason for the overprediction is the current practice of adding separate estimates of contraction scour and pier scour when in fact these processes occur simultaneously and interact. During the occurrence of a flood, velocities and depths increase but they are affected by changes in the distribution of discharge between the main channel and floodplain. In addition, the time history or time development of contraction scour and local pier scour is not the same. As a result, the influence of contraction scour on pier scour, for example, is time dependent. Laboratory experiments are proposed using a 1:45 scale hydraulic model of the Ocmulgee River bridge at Macon, Georgia. Initially, the contraction scour will be measured without the bridge piers in place. In this experiment, the time history of the scour and the velocity distributions at the equilibrium state will be measured. Then the piers will be placed at the bridge cross-section in the flume, and the same measurements will be made. The sensitivity of the measurements to small changes in depth at the same discharge will also be determined, and comparisons will be made with field measurements of scour depth. The results will be used to assess the relative contribution of contraction scour and local pier scour to the final design of the bridge foundation depth.
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