Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Arne Bomblies

Second Advisor

Mandar M. Dewoolkar


The interactions between rivers, surrounding hydrogeological features, and hydraulic structures such as bridges are not well-established or understood at the network scale, especially under transient conditions. The cascading hydraulic effects of local perturbations up- and downstream of the site of perturbation may have significant, unexpected, and far-reaching consequences, and therefore often cause concern among stakeholders. The up- and downstream hydraulic impacts of a single structural modification may extend much farther than anticipated, especially in extreme events. This work presents a framework and methodology to perform an analysis of interdependent bridge-stream interactions along a river corridor. Such analysis may help prioritize limited resources available for bridge and river rehabilitations, allow better-informed cost/benefit analysis, facilitate holistic design of bridges, and address stakeholder concerns raised in response to planned bridge and infrastructure alterations. The stretch of the Otter Creek from Rutland to Middlebury, VT, is used as a test bed for this analysis.

A two-dimensional hydraulic model is used to examine the effects individual structures have on the bridge-stream network, particularly during extreme flood events. Results show that, depending on their characteristics, bridges and roadways may either attenuate or amplify peak flood flows up- and downstream, or have little to no impact at all. Likewise, bridges may or may not be sensitive to any changes in discharge that result from perturbation of existing structures elsewhere within the network. Alterations to structures that induce substantial backwaters may result in the most dramatic impacts to the network, which can be either positive or negative. Structures that do not experience relief (e.g., roadway overtopping) may be most sensitive to network perturbations.



Number of Pages

91 p.