Assessing Stream Channel Stability at Bridges in Physiographic Regions
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Assessing Stream Channel Stability at Bridges in Physiographic Regions

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    The objective of this study was to expand and improve a rapid channel stability assessment method developed previously by Johnson et al. to include additional factors, such as major physiographic units across the United States, a greater range of bank materials and complexities, critical bank heights, stream types and processes, sand bed streams, and in-channel bars or lack of bars. (1) Another goal of this study was to tailor Thorne's reconnaissance method for bridge inspection and stability assessment needs. (2) Stream-bridge intersections were observed across the United States to develop and test the stability assessment method. Site visits were conducted at 57 stream-bridge intersections in 14 physiographic regions and subregions. Data collected and included in the report include locations and global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of the bridges, the physiographic Province, land use, stream classification, bed and bar material, percent of sand in the bed material, controls in the banks or on the bed, bank vegetation, bank material, bank height, and any erosion-related characteristics. Variability in stream types and common characteristics within each of the physiographic regions also were described. Thirteen indicators were identified for the stability assessment method. For each indicator, a rating of poor, fair, good, or excellent was assigned. An overall rank was obtained by summing the 13 ratings. To address sensitivities of various stream types to the indicators and rankings, the appropriate ranges of rankings were determined for three categories of stream channels. Each of the 57 stream-bridge intersections also was described in terms of lateral and vertical stability. Finally, a simplified version of Thorne's stream reconnaissance field sheets is presented for collecting data for the stream stability assessment and to provide a record of conditions at each visit. (
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