Scour at the Base of Retaining Walls and Other Longitudinal Structures

In many locations in the United States, new construction, rehabilitation, and/or reconstruction is requiring the use of retaining walls to minimize the impact of fill into a channel or floodway. Other longitudinal structures (e.g., embankments) that encroach into floodplains need to be protected from erosion and failure by designing and installing countermeasures to protect the face and/or bottom of the structures. What is missing in both of these design situations is the ability to accurately determine the depth of scour at the base of the retaining wall or longitudinal structure such that their foundations can be set at elevations that prevent failure due to undermining. In recent years, there have been several significant retaining wall failures caused by undermined foundations because a reliable method of estimating scour is not routinely used by the engineering community. Either the potential scour at the base of the structure is not considered or estimates are made based on “rule-of-thumb” guidance that may not be reliable. This is particularly important in building MSE (mechanically stabilized earth) walls in environments where the ultimate depth of scour is not known or cannot be determined.There is an urgent need for research in this area so that retaining walls and other longitudinal structures being placed in a riverine environment can be designed with a higher level of confidence. The objective of this research is to develop predictive methods that can be used to estimate scour at the base of longitudinal structures including vertical and sloping walls in a riverine environment with varying (a) flow characteristics; (b) approach angles; (c) structure lengths, shapes, and roughnesses; and (d) streambed/sub-surface soils.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $500000.00
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 24-36

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Reynaud, David

  • Start Date: 20111214
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 29139

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01463227
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 24-36
  • Files: TRB, RiP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 2:19PM