University of Vermont Transportation Research Center

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Scour is by far the primary cause of bridge failures in the United States. Regionally, the vulnerability of bridges to flood damage became evident from the damage seen to Vermont bridges in the 2011 Tropical Storm Irene. Successfully mitigating scour-related problems associated with bridges depends on our ability to reliably estimate scour potential, design effective scour prevention and countermeasures, design safe and economical foundation elements accounting for scour potential, and design reliable and economically feasible monitoring systems. This report presents research on two particular aspects related to bridge scour – 1) System-level analysis of damage observed at Vermont bridges from Tropical Storm Irene. Example case studies are presented including description of the bridge damage, as well as the pre-storm condition of the bridges. Statistical comparison to non-damaged bridges is included to identify significant factors that determine bridge vulnerability to storm damage; and 2)Development of a low-cost scour sensor suitable for monitoring scour and redeposition continuously and communicating the readings wirelessly in real time to stake holders.