In April 1979 and April 1980, major flooding along the lower Pearl River caused extensive damage to homes located on the flood plain in the Slidell, Louisiana, area. In response to questions about causes of these floods and means of mitigating future floods, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, Office of Highways, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, used a two-dimensional finite-element surface-water flow-modeling system to study the effect of four alternative modifications for improving the hydraulic characteristics of the Interstate Highway 10 crossing of the flood plain near Slidell. The analysis used the model's capability to simulate changes in flood-plain topography, flood-plain vegetative cover, and highway-embankment geometry.
Compared with the existing highway crossing, the four alternative modifications reduce backwater and average velocities through bridge openings for a flood of the magnitude of the 1980 flood. The four alternatives also eliminate roadway overtopping during such a flood. For the four modifications, maximum backwater on the west side of the flood plain ranges from 0.3 to 1.1 feet and on the east side from 0.3 to 0.7 foot. Results of the alternative-model simulations show that backwater is greater on the west side of the flood plain than on the east side, but upstream from Interstate Highway 10 backwater decreases more rapidly in the upstream direction on the west side of the flood plain than on the east side. Downstream from Interstate Highway 10, modeling of the four alternatives indicates that backwater and drawdown still occur on the east and west sides of the flood plain, respectively, but are less than the values computed for the April 1980 flood with Interstate Highway 10 in place.
In addition to other highway-crossing modifications, alternatives 2 and 3 include simulation of a new 2,000-foot bridge opening, and ,alternative 4 includes simulation of a 1,000-foot bridge opening. The new bridge conveys 25, 23, and 21 percent of the total computed discharge in alternatives 2, 3, and 4, respectively. The average velocity through the new bridge is 2.0, 1.9, and 3.4 feet per second for alternatives 2, 3, and 4, respectively.
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USGS Numbered Series
Analysis of alternative modifications for reducing backwater at the Interstate Highway 10 crossing of the Pearl River near Slidell, Louisiana