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Mid-America Transportation Center

Development of New Design Guidelines for Protection Against Erosion at Bridge Abutment – Phase III


University of Iowa

Principal Investigator
George Constantinescu
PI Contact Information
Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided
USDOT: $74,850.50
Additional Funding: $74,900
Total Project Cost
$ 149,750.50
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Start Date
End Date
Brief Description of Research Project
The present research proposes the use of a numerically-based approach to develop improved design formulas for minimum riprap stone size for protection against erosion of spill-through abutments. Spill-through abutments are very common at small bridges where abutments are placed on the floodplain. The mean flow fields predicted using fully 3-D RANS simulations are used to estimate the maximum bed shear stress over the riprap layer and the critical Froude number corresponding to the shear-failure entrainment threshold for the riprap stone. During the first year, the numerically-based approach was validated for the case of wing-wall abutments placed in a straight channel. During the second year, a new two-parameter formula was proposed for riprap design at wing-wall abutments. The new formula accounts for the influence of the nondimensional floodplain width and radius of curvature of the channel on the critical Froude number at which riprap shear failure occurs. During the third year, a comprehensive parametric study will be conducted that will provide the data needed to understand how channel curvature, floodplain width and relative length of the spill-through abutment influence the peak bed shear stress over the riprap regions. The main goal will be to develop a multi-parameter formula for riprap design at spill-through abutments placed in straight and curved channels as a function of the nondimensional floodplain width, ratio of abutment length to floodplain width, nondimensional riprap stone size and radius of curvature of the channel. These series of simulations will also allow better understanding the limitations of presently available riprap design formulas proposed for spill-through abutments placed in straight channels. Recommendations will be made for inclusion of the new design formula in future versions of HEC-23.
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