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DJ 1/2001





1. Introduction

2. Types of Failure Due to Hydraulic Action

3. Design Consideration

4. Recommendations

5. Glossary of Terms

6. References

Appendix A Preliminary Design Procedure

Dec 2001
DJ 1/2001

Design Of Highway Bridges For Hydraulic Action

1. Introduction

1.1 The height of a bridge has significant effect on the overall cost of construction and social
impact on surrounding built-up areas. A tall bridge will cost more in the construction of
structure and approach road; and the high and long approach road connecting the two ends of
the bridge trigger social and environmental impact to the surrounding built-up areas. While it
is desirable to keep the level of the bridge as close as possible to the general terrain on site
and accepting the possibility of the bridge being overtopped during high flood; the hydraulic
aspect of the waterway should not be underrated and the safety and maintenance aspect of the
bridge structure should be adequately provided for. This advice note is the result of
discussion with experts from the Jabatan Pengairan dan Saliran and the University of Malaya
and incorporates abstract from a few references. It aims at providing guidance to engineers in
the determination of the hydraulic conditions which may occur and to quantify their
associated effects upon the bridge structures. It does not cover the requirement for navigation.

1.2 Jabatan Pengairan dan Saliran in general, has the following guideline for the design flood:-

Type Of Waterway Land Use Design Flood

Urban Area 100-year

Agricultural Area 50-year

Drainage and Irrigation - 20-year

Culverts across the main road may be designed for a 50-year flood.

The above guideline has been incorporated in the Manual Saliran Mesra Alam which was
approved by the Cabinet for general use on 1st January, 2001.

1.3 In U.K. values of nominal loading to be adopted in design are derived in accordance with the
general basis of probability of occurrence. BS 5400 and BD 37/88 state that where adequate
statistical distribution are available, nominal loads are those appropriate to a return period of
120 years. In the absence of such statistical data values considered as approximate to a 120-
year return period are used. Design stream flow is calculated based on a range periods of up
to 200 years in order to assess which events produce the worst effects from considering
different flow velocities and depth. BA 59/94 noted that in many rivers, velocities can be
high when flows are just within-banks, and scour can be worse under these condition than at
higher flooding discharge rates.

1.4 Bridges in the U.S.A. are designed to withstand effects of scour from a flood exceeding the
100-year flood with little risk of failing. HEC 18 further recommended that scour from check
flood or overtopping flood in the order of a 500-year event is also calculated.

1.5 In JKR the finished level of road pavement is designed such that the subgrade is above the
25-year flood level. In some cases the return period is reduced to 15-year. As structures are
more costly to reconstruct and repair, more stringent standards are adopted in their design
such that the structures are durable and serviceable to the public for a long life span with
minimum inconvenience to the users during repair. JKR has adopted the following return
periods for the estimation of design discharge:

(a) Bridges 100-year or the highest recorded flood

(b) Culverts 50-year

A freeboard of 1.0 m between the HWL and the soffit of bridge beam is recommended.

Design Principle
1.6 The two overall objectives for the hydraulic design of bridges are :

i. The effect of constructing the bridge on the existing water regime should be kept to
the minimum.

ii. The structural design of the bridges should aim to prevent failure under the various
types of hydraulic actions.

1.7 To achieve the first objective, the design should satisfy the afflux flow capacity and
navigational requirements. The afflux will determine the likelihood of any increase in risk of
flooding upstream of the proposed bridge. The design should take into account possible
effects on the stability of any present or proposed adjacent structures downstream of the site.

1.8 To achieve the second objective, it is necessary to calculate potential scour depths and
various hydraulic forces in order to check the adequacy of the structural design to withstand
the worst condition resulting from floods equal to the 100-year flood.

Design Procedures
1.9 The preliminary design procedure is as shown in the flow chart in Appendix A. Having
decided that the bridge may be overtopped during high flood, the first attempt in determining
the bridge height is to calculate the flood level corresponding to the recurrence period shown
in Table 1, and then add 1 m to that level to determine the soffit level of the superstructure of
the bridge. If the deck surface level of the bridge calculated based on this soffit level is lower
than the general level of the approach road, use the level of the approach road to proceed with
the subsequent steps.

1.10 It should be noted that Table 1 suggests the minimum recurrence period of flood for
determining the lowest soffit level of the bridge only. The suggested recurrence period
depends on the category of road and river considered. Should the initial height so determined
in 1.9 above fail to meet the requirement of subsequent hydraulic and structural
consideration, the procedures should be repeated using higher value of bridge height.

However, in calculating the effect due to the action of the highest flood water, the highest
recorded flood or the 100-year flood, whichever is higher, should be used; which in some
cases a submerged bridge condition is to be considered.


Expressway Minor 50 years
(>100,000 vpd) Major 100 years
National Highway Minor 50 years
(<100,000 vpd) Major 100 years
Primary Road Minor 25 years
(<60,000 vpd) Major 50 years
Secondary Road Minor 25 years
(<30,000 vpd) Major 50 years
Minor Road Minor 25 years
(<5,000 vpd) Major 25 years
Minor 50 years
Major 100 years
Minor 25 years
Major 50 years
Minor 25 years
Major 25 years
Minor 25 years
Local Street
Major 25 years

Note: 1 vpd - vehicle per day

2. Road categories are as defined in Arahan Teknik (Jalan) 8/86

A Guide on geometric Design of Roads.

3. A river is defined as a major river if it’s catchment area is at least

1000 sq. km., for example Sg. Kemaman at Geliga Bridge.

Table 1. Suggested flood recurrence period for determining the soffit level of
the superstructure of the bridge.


Failure Due to Scour

2.1 Most rivers beds and banks consist of, more or less, mobile material. During a flood, the bed
level may fall as bed material is transported away by the moving water. Construction of
bridge foundations within a river can result in additional lowering of the bed level at the
bridge site. This extra erosion, or scour, has two possible causes:

i. From a general increase in flow velocity due to the constriction of the channel
(general scour),

ii. From a local disturbance of the flow due to the bridge piers or abutments (local

Where both types of scour occur, the total depth of scour is the sum of general and local
scour. Additional scour may be caused, on navigable waterways, by the action of vessels
causing rapid displacement of water and high local flow rates.

2.2 A bridge constructed on spread foundations will be at serious risk from scour when the scour
level reaches the level of the base of a footing. When a substructure member is subject to
lateral loads, which are partially or wholly resisted by resultant soil pressure, then the
foundation may be at risk before scour reaches the footing level. Such lateral forces may be
increased by hydrodynamic effects. The bearing capacity of a foundation may also be
reduced due to a loss of overburden caused by scour.

2.3 Scour adjacent to a piled foundation may result in a loss of skin friction and reduction in load
bearing capacity of the piles, even if they have been only partially exposed. Additional
bending stresses may also be induced in the piles due to hydrodynamic forces and the loss of
lateral restraint.

2.4 Overtopping of the approach roadways and turbulent flow adjacent to approach embankments
can lead to erosion and scour of the side slopes and toes of the embankments. This may lead
to instability of the approach embankments and possible loss of the road. Loss of fill material
around and behind any wing walls can lead to instability and failure of the wing walls.

2.5 Many features of the bridge and river affect the depth of scour. However, the complex nature
of the problem means that accurate prediction of scour is generally not possible. It is possible
to identify the most important features and to predict how scour may develop due to each
feature. Combining the effects from such significant features will allow an assessment to be
made of the expected severity of scour.

2.6 Local scour at a bridge pier is normally greatest near the upstream nose of the pier. However,
due to local geometrical effects and the nature of the flow or sediment, there may be cases
where the local scour is greatest in other areas adjacent to the pier. This is particularly true if
the pier alignment deviates significantly from the direction of flow.

2.7 The depth of the foundations is important in determining the risk to a bridge from a given
degree of scour. Deep foundations subject to severe scour may be safer than a shallow
footing subject to moderate scour.

2.8 There are a significant number of bridges where the flow is affected by tidal action.
Depending upon the location of the bridge the predominant discharge can vary between
fluvial and tidal. In all cases the flow will be in at least two different directions at different
times and flow patterns may vary significantly. A pier which may be well aligned and
subject to little scour during one part of the tidal cycle may be poorly aligned and subject to
scour during another part.

Failure Due to Bank Erosion

2.9 Most natural rivers tend to change their course with time. One mechanism by which this
occurs is bank erosion. A pier or abutment located on a flood plain or in an estuary may be
placed at risk if the main channel moves sufficiently close to cause loss of support or
undermining. Bank erosion may occur very slowly or be very rapid. It will normally be most
rapid during floods. The rate of bank erosion depends partly on the character of the river – a
river with a steep longitudinal gradient and high flow velocities will, in general, be more
active and prone to bank erosion than a river with a fairly flat slope and lower velocities.

Failure Due to Hydraulic Forces on piers

2.10 Water flowing past a bridge pier exerts a force on the pier. This force can be resolved into
two components; one along the direction of flow, which is referred to as the drag force and
one normal to the direction of flow, which is referred to as the lift force.

2.11 The forces involved depend somewhat upon the depth of flow and the length of the pier but
there is a significant dependence upon the flow velocity. If the flow is aligned with the pier,
the lift force is normally zero, but as the angle of attack increases the lift force (for non-
circular piers) increases rapidly. The ability of a pier to withstand drag and lift forces will
depend upon the construction of the bridge and its foundation details. This ability may be
reduced during a flood if significant scour takes place around the base of a pier.

Failure Due to Hydraulic Forces on Bridges Decks

2.12 If the water level reaches above the soffit level of a bridge, or the springing in the case of an
arch, the flowing water will exert a force on the bridge deck or arch intrados. The drag on the
deck may be calculated in a similar way to drag on a pier, and similarly, is very dependent on
the flow velocity. Such a force applied to the deck of the bridge is potentially dangerous due

i. The large overturning moment produced about the pier foundations.

ii. The increase in horizontal shearing force at the deck/pier or barrel/springing


If it is known that historic flood level have approached the proposed bridge deck height, it
may be appropriate to carry out a site-specific study to assess future flood levels, flow
velocities, hydraulic forces and the resistance of the bridge to these forces. Simply supported
bridge decks may be lifted from their supports. Uplift on the soffit of masonry/brick arch
may reduce the compression force in the arch and promote collapse.

Failure Due to Debris
2.13 Build up of trash and debris against bridge components can significantly affect the hydraulic
performance of bridges. Difficulties are normally associated with small single span bridges
which tend to be more easily blocked than large multi-span structures. For single span
bridges the blockage can be extensive, reaching up to 90% of the bridge opening. This may
result in large increases in water level upstream and associated flooding. Debris may
partially restrict the flow leading to significant scour around piers or abutment – threatening
the safety of the structure. The presence, in the catchment above a bridge, of large afforested
areas with shallow roots on steep slopes produces a known risk of flood debris blockage and
cascade type failure of a sequence of bridges down a watercourse.

2.14 Debris which is caught against or between piers can result in enhanced hydraulic forces by
increasing the effective pier width. Floating debris which collides with piers can cause
dynamic loading. The extent of these forces is not easily predicted and both will usually be
most severe when the river is in flood.

Failure Due to Ship Collision

2.15 Ships and smaller craft may collide with bridge piers or superstructures in periods of adverse
weather or when there has been a loss of control of the ship e.g. a loss of steering. The size,
speed and type of critical ship to be designed for should be decided, after discussions with the
relevant navigation authority, as should the anticipated worst-case river currents and flood
levels. For major esturial crossings over busy shipping waters specialist advice should be


3.1 The principles of economic analysis and experience with actual flood damage indicate that it
is almost always cost effective to provide a foundation that will not fail even from a very
large flood event. Generally, occasional damage to highway approaches from rare floods can
be repaired quickly to restore traffic service. On the other hand, a bridge which collapses or
suffers major structural damage from scour can create safety hazard to motorist as well as
significant social impacts and economic losses over a long period of time. Aside from the
cost of replacing or repairing the bridge and constructing and maintaining detours, there can
be significant cost to communities or entire regions due to additional detour travel time,
inconvenience, and lost business opportunities.

Design Consideration
3.2 General

3.2.1 Raise the bridge superstructure elevation above the general elevation of the approach
roadways wherever practicable. This provides for overtopping of approach embankments and
relief from the hydraulic forces acting at the bridge. This is particularly important for streams
carrying large amounts of debris which could clog the waterway at the bridge. It is
recommended that the elevation of the soffit of the bridge be increased a minimum of 0.6 m
above the normal freeboard for the 100-year flood for streams that carry a large amount of

3.2.2 Superstructures should be securely anchored to the substructure if buoyant, or if debris forces
are probable. Further, the superstructure should be shallow and open to minimize resistance
to the flow where overtopping is likely.

3.2.3 Continuous span bridges withstand forces due to scour and resultant foundation movement
better than simple span bridges. Continuous spans provide alternate load paths (redundancy)
for unbalanced forces caused by settlement and/or rotation of the foundations. This type of
structural design is recommended for bridges where there is a significant scour potential.

3.2.4 Local scour holes at piers and abutments may overlap one another in some instances. If local
scour holes do overlap, the scour is indeterminate and may be deeper. The topwidth of a
local scour hole on each side of the pier ranges from 1.0 to 2.8 times the depth of local scour.
A topwidth value of 2.0 times the depth of local scour on each side of a pier is suggested for
practical applications.

3.2.5 For pile and drilled shaft supported substructures to scour, a re-evaluation of the foundation
design may require a change in the pile or shaft length, number, cross-sectional dimension
and type based on the loading and performance requirements and site-specific conditions.

3.2.6 At some bridge sites, hydraulics and traffic conditions may necessitate consideration of a
bridge that will be partially or even totally inundated during high flows. This consideration
results in pressure flow through the bridge waterway.

3.3 Piers

3.3.1 Pier foundations on floodplains should be designed to the same elevation as pier foundations
in the stream channel if there is a likelihood that the channel will shift its location over the
life of the bridge.

3.3.2 Align piers with the direction of flood flows. Assess the hydraulic advantages of round piers,
particularly where there are complex flow patterns during flood events.

3.3.3 Streamline piers to decrease scour and minimize potential for buildup of debris. Use debris
deflectors where appropriate.

3.3.4 Evaluate the hazards of debris buildup when considering use of multiple pile bents in stream
channel. Where debris buildup is a problem, consider the bent a solid pier for purpose of
estimating scour. Consider use of other pier types where clogging of the waterway area could
be a major problem.

3.3.5 Scour analyses of piers near abutments need to consider the potential of larger velocities and
skew angles from the flow coming around the abutment.

3.4 Abutments

3.4.1 The equations used to estimate the magnitude of abutment scour were developed in a
laboratory under ideal conditions and for the most part lack field verification. Because
conditions in the field are different from those in the laboratory, these equations tend to over
predict the magnitude of scour that may be expected to develop. Recognizing this, it is
recommended that the abutment scour equations be used to develop insight as to the scour
potential at an abutment. Engineering judgment must be used to determine if the abutment
foundation should be designed to resist the computed local scour. As an alternate, abutment
foundations should be designed for the estimated long-term degradation and contraction
scour. Riprap and/or guide banks should be used to protect the abutment for this alternative.
In summary, riprap or some other protection should always be used to protect the abutment
from erosion.

3.4.2 Relief bridges, guide banks, and river training works should be used, where needed, to
minimize the effects of adverse flow conditions at abutments.

3.4.3 Wherever possible, use spill-through (sloping) abutments. Scour at spill-through abutments
is about 50 percent of that of vertical wall abutments.

3.4.4 Riprap or a guide bank 15 m or longer, or other bank protection methods should be used on
the downstream side of an abutment and approach embankment to protect them from erosion
by the wake vortex.

3.5 Superstructures

The design of the superstructure has a significant impact on the scour of the foundation.
Hydraulic forces that should be considered in the design of a bridge superstructure include
buoyancy, drag and impact from floating debris. The configuration of the superstructure
should be influenced by the highway profile, the probability of submergence, expected
problems with debris and flow velocities, as well as the usual economic, structural and
geometric considerations. Superstructures over waterways should provide structural
redundancy, such as continuous spans (rather than simple spans).

Buoyancy. The weigh of a submerged or partially submerged bridge superstructure is the

weigh of the superstructure less the weigh of the volume of water displaced. The volume of
water displaced may be much greater than the volume of the superstructure components if air
is trapped between girders. Also, solid parapet rails and curbs on the bridge deck can
increase the volume of water displaced and increase buoyant forces. The volume of air
trapped under the superstructure can be reduced by providing holes (vents) through the deck
between structural members. Superstructures should be anchored to piers to counter buoyant
forces and to resist drag forces. Continuous span designs are also less susceptible to failure
from buoyancy than simple span designs.

Drag Forces. Drag forces on a submerged or partially submerged superstructure can be

calculated by the following equation:

Fd = 1
2 Cd ρH v2

Where: Fd = Drag force per unit of length of bridge, N/m

Cd = Coefficient of drag (2.0 to 2.2)
ρ = Density of water, 1000 kg/m
H = Depth of submergence, m
v = Velocity of flow, m/s

Floating Debris. Where bridges are destroyed by debris, it usually is due to accumulations
against bridge components. Waterways may be partially or totally blocked by debris,
creating hydraulic conditions that cause or increase scour at pier foundations and bridge
abutments, structural damage from impact and uplift, and overtopping of roadways and
bridges. Floating debris is a common hydraulic problem at highway stream crossings nation-
wide. Debris hazard occur more frequently in unstable streams where bank erosion is active
and in streams with mild to moderate slopes, as contrasted with headwater streams. Debris
hazards are often associated with large floods, and most debris is derived locally along the
stream banks upstream from the bridge. After being mobilized, debris typically moves as
individual logs which tend to concentrate in the thalweg of the stream. It is possible to
evaluate the abundance of debris upstream of a bridge crossing and then to implement
mitigation measures, such as removal and or containment, to minimize potential problems
during a major flood.

Debris Forces. Information regarding methods for computing forces imposed on bridge
superstructures by floating debris is also lacking despite the fact that debris causes or
contributes to many failures. Floating debris may consist of logs, trees, house trailers,
automobiles, storage tanks, lumber, houses and many other items representative of floodplain
usage. This complicates the task of computing impact forces since the mass and the
resistance to crushing of the debris contribute to the impact force.

A general equation for computing impact forces is:

dv mv 2
F=m =
dt 2s

Where: F = Impact imparted by the debris, N

m = Mass of the debris, kg
s = Stopping distance, m
v = Velocity of the floating debris prior to impact, m/s

In addition to impact forces, a buildup of debris increases the effective depth of the
superstructure and the drag coefficient may also be increased. Perhaps the most hazardous
result of debris buildup is partial or total clogging of the waterway. This can result in a
sluicing action of flow under the debris which can results in scour and foundation failure or a
shift in the channel location from under the bridge.

Specific Design Consideration

3.6 Loading – the following loads, in addition to those specified in BD 37/88, should be
considered in the design:

i. Hydrodynamic forces
ii. Debris forces
iii. Ship collision forces, if appropriate

3.7 The loads calculated should be considered, unless otherwise specified, as nominal loads.
Unless otherwise specified the design checks should be carried out both at the ultimate limit
state (ULS) and the serviceability limit state (SLS) using the combination rules and the partial
factors of safety (γfL ) given in Table 3.1. This table is an extension of BD 37/88, Table 1.
The hydrodynamic and debris forces should be considered in Load Combination 2, however,
for these checks, no wind loading should be assumed to be present. The ship collision forces
should be considered separately in Load Combination 4, but no other accidental load should
be considered to act together with them.

3.8 A minimum allowance shall be made for a debris collision force equivalent to that exerted by
a 3 tonne log travelling at the stream velocity calculated for the peak design event and
arrested within distances of 150mm for slender column type piers and 75mm for massive, non
– yielding type piers.

Load State
[2] [4]

Hydrodynamic forces on bridge support

During erection ULS 1.10

SLS 1.00

With dead load plus superimposed dead load only and for ULS 1.40
members primarily resisting water forces SLS 1.00

With dead load plus superimposed dead load plus other ULS 1.10
appropriate Combination 2 loads, excepting wind load SLS 1.00

Relieving effect of water (when relevant) ULS 1.00

SLS 1.00

Flood debris collision forces on bridge support

During erection ULS 1.40

SLS 1.15

With dead load and superimposed dead load only ULS 1.50
SLS 1.15

With dead load and superimposed dead Load plus other ULS 1.50
appropriate Combination 2 loads, excepting wind load SLS 1.20

Ship collision forces

not to be combined with other accidental loads or live ULS 1.00


ULS: ultimate limit state

SLS: serviceability limit state

TABLE 3.1: Hydraulic Load Combinations


4.1 Increasing capacity of natural waterways can be achieved by changing the cross-section of
the river, namely by increasing the length at bridge or by deepening the river channel. In
figure 4.1, waterway capacity has been increased to lower or confine the design flow by
excavating outside of the environmentally sensitive area and constructing retaining walls.

Figure 4.1 Typical Natural Waterways with increased capacity

Figure 4.2 and 4.3 shows possible channel improvements for composite waterways.
Stabilisation measures in Figure 4.2 include check structures, riprap, grading and retaining
walls. Improvements to the main channel increase capacity for minor flood flows and may
confine or reduce depth at the design flood.

Figure 4.2 Composite Waterways with Stabilisation Measures

In Figure 4.3, the main channel area has been left undisturbed and the overbank conveyance
capabilities improved by excavating the flood plain area. This improved natural waterway
conveys the base flow and increases the capacity of the total waterway to convey the major
system design flow.

Figure 4.3 Composite Waterways with Increased Capacity

4.2 A freeboard of 1.0m is required by JPS above the 100-year flood. This is based on stream
flow data. However, where the design discharge is checked using frequency analysis based
on rainfall data, the freeboard need not be provided if the value is less than the 100-year

4.3 For river of width less than 6.0m, culverts may be constructed. Twin culverts or more are not
recommended especially if the waterways are designed for a 100-year flood. The design
flood for culverts at the main road is the 50-year flood.

4.4 The depth of the bridge superstructure may cause obstruction to the overtopping flow and
reduces the waterway carrying capacity. To reduce this depth, main span of 30m and
approach spans of 12.0m may be provided.


Afflux (Literally, the flow towards a point). The increases in water level
upstream of a bridge over that which would have occurred if the bridge
were absent is commonly termed the afflux.

Aggradation Increase in bed levels with time.

Angle of attack Angle between the longitudinal axis of a pier and the direction of flow.

Armouring The process of progressive removal of finer sediment from the bed which
leaves a layer of coarser sediment lying on the bed.

Channel pattern The plan form of a river.

- alignment The horizontal plan form of a river, usually relative to a structure.
- constriction A reduction in the size of a channel. This frequently occurs at bridge
crossings and may cause general scour.
- lateral shift The horizontal movement of river channels in plan.

Degradation Reduction in bed levels with time.

Dredging The removal of sediment from the bed of the river. This may reduce bed
levels both upstream and downstream of the location of dredging.

Flood plain Where embankments are used to cross a flood plain the flow over the
constriction flood plain may be constricted leading to increased flow velocities and

Freeboard Vertical distance between water-surface and soffit of bridge or top of


Froude number A non-dimensional flow parameter which expresses whether flow in an

open channel is sub-critical or super-critical.

Head erosion The tendency of a steep or vertical section of channel to migrate


Hydrodynamic The force exerted on a pier or abutment by the flow of water around it.
loading This may include buoyancy forces. There are similarities with the drag
and lift forces acting on an aerofoil.

Hydrofoils Vanes located in the flow in order to inhibit vortex action and to reduce

Impact loading The loading applied to the bridge structure by the collision of debris
carried by the flow.

Invert protection Protection of the river bed under the bridge to prevent scour.

Pier thinness Length to breadth ratio of a pier cross section.

Regime Conditions under which a hydraulic process is occurring.

Relative flow depth The ratio of obstruction size to flow depth. If this is large then local may
be inhibited.

Retained water levels Structures such as weirs may be placed in a river maintain water
levels upstream. Alterations to retained water level may effect the
hydraulic conditions at a bridge.

Rip-rap Stone placed to prevent scour.

Scour Scour is the removal of sediment and hence reduction in river bed level
by flowing water. It may be divided into three components, general
scour, local scour, and natural scour (progressive aggradation/
- clear water Scour at flows for which the surrounding sediment is moving (see
sediment transport)
- due to bends Flow around a bend causes greater scour at the outside of the bend.
- equilibrium Under a give steady flow the depth of scour will increase until an
equilibrium is reached. After that time no further increase in scour depth
takes place.
- general Scour which affects the whole width of the river but is still confined to
the reach adjacent to the bridge. It is commonly caused bay a channel
constriction at the bridge site (eg by bridge approach embankments
encroaching onto the flood plain and/or into the main channel) or a
change in downstream control of the water surface elevation or flow.
- live bed Scour at flows for which the surrounding sediment is moving. Some
authorities claim that maximum scour depth is achieved at the transition
from clear water to live bed scour.
- local Scour caused bay an acceleration of flow and its resulting vortices,
around an obstruction such as a pier or abutment (see horseshoe vortex).
Such scour only occurs in the immediate vicinity of the obstruction.
- natural (Progressive aggradation and degradation) These are long-term river bed
elevation changes due to natural or man-induced causes within the reach
of the river on which the bridge is located. Aggradation involves the
deposition of material eroded from other sections of a river reach,
whereas degradation involves the lowering or scouring of the bed of a

Scour hole The bed features caused by the reduction in bed level due to local scour.
- refilling of The depth of scour increases with flow. During the recession of a flood
scour holes may be totally or partially re-filled with sediment.

- cohesionless Sediment of sufficient size that electro-static forces between particles can
be ignored, typically d>0.04mm.
- non uniform Sediment in which a large of sizes are present.

Sediment transport, There is normally a critical shear stress below which sediment does not
initiation of motion move. Thus for low flow, little or no sediment transport takes place.
Once critical conditions are exceeded then sediment transport increases
rapidly with shear stress. The critical shear stress varies with sediment

Shape factor Factor to account for the effect of pier shape on local scour.

Shear velocity A measure of the shear stress between flowing water and the bed of the

Sub-critical flow Flow with a Froude number less than 1.

Tail-water level The downstream water level which partly determines flow conditions at
the bridge

Uplift forces Buoyancy forces exerted by water on the bridge due to the partial or total
submergence of the deck.

Vortex A mass of rotating or swirling fluid.

- horseshoe Flow around a pier generates a vortex whose axis has a horseshoe shape.

- trailing Flow around a pier normally sheds vortices downstream, frequently

referred to as a Karman vortex street.

Water table The level below which the ground is saturated with water.

6. Reference
1. Part 6 BA 59/94 The Design of Highway Bridges for Hydraulic Action. The
Highways Agency, U.K.

2. HEC-18, US Department of Transportation, Federal Highways Administration.

Evaluating Scour at Bridges, March 2001.

3. HEC-20, US Department of Transportation, Federal Highways Administration.

Stream Stability at Highway Structures, May 2001.

4. HEC-23, US Department of Transportation, Federal Highways Administration.

Bridge Scour and Stream Instability Countermeasure, March 2001.

5. Urban Stormwater management Manual for Malaysia (Manual Saliran Mesra Alam
Malaysia). Department of Irrigation and Drainage Malaysia, 2000.

Line of highway corridor agreed Appendix A
Step 1
Site r econnaissance
Review and nalysis of avaible river data
Select possible locations for bridge crossing

Step 2
Field survey

Step 3

Evaluate 1. Design flood flow

2. Ma xi mu m flood level
3. Navigational constraints
4. Bed particle size/tractive stress
5. Approach flow velocity and direction
6. Floodplain width
7. River meander characteristics
8. Social impacts

Step 4
Determine 1. Height of Bridge
2. Waterway opening
3. General scour depth
4. A fflux
5. Flow velocity
6. Training works requirement

Step 5
Are a fflux and No Adjust height of bridge
general scour depth
and waterway opening

Step 6
P reliminary bridge design
Including calculation of: 1. Hydrodynamic forces
2. Forc es due to debris and shipping

(P ier height/geometry & location) Step 7

Calculate 1. General scour
2. A fflux
3. Local scour

Step 8
(Reduce local scour effe ct) Are general and (Reduce general & local scour e ffect)
local scour depth
acceptable No *
Adjust pier height/
geometry/number o f pier Yes

Step 9
No Is the afflux No*
acceptable ?

Yes Step 10
Cost approaches, training works & bridge structures

Step 11
Can further
Alter bridge type/adjust pier Yes
be made to produce a
Yes *
height/geometry location
more satisfactory
design ?


Step 12
Yes Is there an alternative
bridge crossing location
to be assessed ?

Step 13
Note :
Review alternative preliminary designs & make final
selection for detailed design & possible model * Denotes step or item carried out
investigation for flood plain crossing only

Procedure for Preli minary Hydraulic Design of Bri dges