Real-time streambed scour monitoring at two bridges over the Gunnison River in western Colorado, 2016–17

Scientific Investigations Report 2018-5123
Prepared in cooperation with the Colorado Department of Transportation
By:

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Abstract

The Colorado Department of Transportation maintains roadways crossing over large streams and rivers where sediment transport and channel alignment changes can affect the structural stability of bridges. Structural stability during and immediately after peak streamflow can be assessed by measuring streambed scour; however, placing personnel or boats in the water during high-streamflow events using traditional methods can be difficult, hazardous, and time consuming. To address this need, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with Colorado Department of Transportation, installed instrumentation at two bridges in western Colorado to measure streambed elevations in real-time during snowmelt-runoff periods (May through June) in 2016 and 2017. The bridges include U.S. Highway 50 eastbound over the Gunnison River at milepost 70.0 (bridge I–04–K) and Colorado Highway 141 over the Gunnison River at milepost 153.7 (bridge I–03–A).

Bridge I–04–K was outfitted with two echosounders, each mounted on the north side of pier 3. Data collected during the 2016 snowmelt runoff did not indicate scour had occurred. Data collected during 2017 snowmelt runoff indicated minor scour and fill occurred under the downstream echosounder.

Bridge I–03–A was outfitted with two echosounders, each mounted on opposite sides of pier 4, at the transition of the upstream nose to the straight section of the pier wall. Data recorded during 2016 did not indicate any scour under the echosounders. Debris accumulation around the nose of the pier and under the echosounders resulted in inconsistent streambed elevation data. Data recorded during 2017 did not indicate any scour under the echosounders. Probing of the pier wall and streambed interface and underwater photographs obtained in 2016 revealed undermining along the length of the pier wall. The undermining extended side-to-side to a depth of about 2 feet. Underwater photographs were obtained again in 2017; no changes from the previous year were observed.

Cross-section surveys were completed at each bridge to measure and document changes in channel geometry during the study. Surveys were performed in spring 2016 before snowmelt runoff, spring 2017 before snowmelt runoff, and fall 2017. Streambed elevations from cross-section surveys at both bridges were evaluated using two-tailed, paired t-tests and Wilcoxon rank sum tests to identify significant changes between the surveys. Both tests indicated significant changes in mean streambed elevations for the cross-sections and around the monitored piers at bridges I–04–K and I–03–A during the 2-year study.

Suggested Citation

Henneberg, M.F., 2018, Real-time streambed scour monitoring at two bridges over the Gunnison River in western Colorado, 2016–17: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigation Report 2018–5123, 15 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20185123.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Real-Time Streambed Scour Monitoring
  • Summary
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Real-time streambed scour monitoring at two bridges over the Gunnison River in western Colorado, 2016–17
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2018-5123
DOI 10.3133/sir20185123
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Colorado Water Science Center
Description Report: v, 15 p.; Data release
Country United States
State Colorado
Other Geospatial Gunnison River
Online Only (Y/N) Y