Remote Electronic Water Level Sensors for Monitoring Scour Critical Structures

Scour is the number one cause of bridge failures in the United States. Numerous structures throughout Michigan are classified as scour critical due to the three types of scour: long term degradation, contraction, and local scour. Contraction and local scour increase the risk of bridge failure during higher than normal flow volumes and typically fill in as channel flows recede. Scour calculation methods provided by FHWA’s HEC-18: Evaluating Scour at Bridges allow for amount of scour to be determined based on streamflow or water surface elevations the structures will experience. Currently, site visits are performed to monitor water surface elevations and debris build up. Occasional closures are made until high water subsides. During widespread or long-term rain events, it is difficult to reach every scour critical structure for observation. Although numerous USGS/NOAA stream gauges exist throughout Michigan, additional installations and maintenance can cost upwards of $23,000 per sensor, and $6,000 annually for maintenance and calibration. A more cost-effective system of remote sensors capable of providing live data to bridge owners would help efficiently prioritize site visits, on-site monitoring, and closures/detours.


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    • Status: Active
    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Michigan Department of Transportation

      Van Wagoner Building
      425 W. Ottawa Street
      Lansing, MI  United States  48909
    • Performing Organizations:

      University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

      Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
      2350 Hayward
      Ann Arbor, MI  United States  48109-2125
    • Principal Investigators:

      Kerkez, Branko

    • Start Date: 20210401
    • Expected Completion Date: 20231231
    • Actual Completion Date: 0

    Subject/Index Terms

    • TRT Terms: Scour; Sensors
    • Subject Areas: Bridges and other structures;

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01774509
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Michigan Department of Transportation
    • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
    • Created Date: Jun 21 2021 11:01AM