Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) for Climate Resilient Culverts

Culvert design must consider structural design, hydraulic design, environmental and site consideration, joint performance, and service life. The design service lives (DSL) of culverts range between 15-20 years; however, most U.S. DOTs DSL are currently 50-75 years. Climate change has resulted in increased storm frequency and intensity, leading to increased stormwater runoff and sediment yields; however, the rigidity of the culverts has not allowed the conveyance to adapt. Downstream implications include flooding, washouts, and damages leading to costly emergency repairs. This has altered stream behavior and disproportionately affected aquatic species. Research in the Northwest has shown that culverts disrupt natural movement patterns, which impact local ecosystems. The main objective of this research is to identify culvert characteristics that lead to vulnerability under climate change and develop nature-based solutions (NBS) for culverts through partnerships. The following study tasks are proposed to meet the above objective: Task 1: engaging the Oklahoma and Arkansas DOTs to determine current practices in culvert design, inspection, and maintenance and facilitate data sharing amongst stakeholders; Task 2: creating Excel and geographic information system (GIS) databases with the collected culvert data that includes attribute data such as installation year, location, application (e.g., stream crossing, drainage channel), culvert material, size, and design flow, as available; Task 3: conducting site visits to verify the information in the databases and assess the feasibility for NBS in the catchment; Task 4: developing a vulnerability framework and risk prioritization tool; Task 5: creating fact sheets on potential NBS and resources for retrofitting existing culverts; and Task 6: final reporting and recommendations for future work. The anticipated outputs of this project include: (a) GIS and Excel databases of culverts in Oklahoma and Arkansas; (b) framework to categorize culvert risk under climate change; (c) Excel-based tool to prioritize culvert maintenance and NBS; (d) fact sheets on culvert maintenance, replacement, and cost-sharing opportunities for upstream alternatives that prioritize NBS to improve culvert resilience under climate, and (e) LTAP/ TTAP course on NBS culvert resilience. The developed databases will serve as centralized repositories of information on existing culverts in Oklahoma and Arkansas that can be easily expanded into additional jurisdictions. Framework and prioritization tools will allow culvert vulnerability to be assessed according to a unified metric. The developed databases and tools will equip transportation planners to make well-informed decisions related to NBS for culvert resiliency


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $300989
  • Contract Numbers:


    CY1- OSU-UARK-01

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Southern Plains Transportation Center

    University of Oklahoma
    201 Stephenson Pkwy, Suite 4200
    Norman, OK  United States  73019
  • Project Managers:

    Dunn, Denise

  • Performing Organizations:

    Oklahoma State University, Stillwater

    Stillwater, OK  United States  74078

    University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

    4190 Bell Engineering
    Civil Engineering
    Fayetteville, Arkansas  United States  72701
  • Principal Investigators:

    Schussler, Jaime

    Delatte, Norb

    Braham, Andrew

  • Start Date: 20231001
  • Expected Completion Date: 20240930
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01899357
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Southern Plains Transportation Center
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3552348306, CY1- OSU-UARK-01
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Nov 15 2023 9:39PM