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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M017354/1
Title: Risk Assessment of Masonry Bridges Under Flood Conditions: Hydrodynamic Effects of Debris Blockage and Scour
Principal Investigator: Djordjevic, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Arthur, Professor S Tabor, Professor G Kripakaran, Dr P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Bill Harvey Associates Ltd Bridge Owners' Forum CIRIA
Cornwall Council Cumbria County Council Devon County Council
Dorset County Council Environment Agency (Grouped) JBA Consulting
Mott Macdonald Network Rail Rail Safety & Standards Board
Department: Engineering Computer Science and Maths
Organisation: University of Exeter
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 11 May 2015 Ends: 10 November 2018 Value (£): 634,734
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Coastal & Waterway Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Environment
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
03 Dec 2014 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 3rd December 2014 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Recent flooding events such as those of winter 2013/14 in the South West of UK have highlighted the importance of having greater resilience in our transport infrastructure. The failure of bridges or even a reduction in service during and in the aftermath of floods can lead to significant direct and indirect costs to the economy and society, and hamper rescue and recovery efforts. For example, 29 bridges collapsed or were severely damaged during the 2009 floods in Cumbria leading to nearly £34m in repair and replacement costs, and significantly larger economic and societal costs.

This research aims to enhance the resilience of our transport infrastructure by enabling practitioners to assess the risks to bridges from debris accumulation in the watercourse, a leading cause of bridge failure or damage during floods both in the UK and world-wide. It will address an important industry need as there is currently no guidance available for practitioners to evaluate the hydrodynamic effects of debris blockage at bridges and in particular, at masonry bridges, which are most susceptible to debris blockage. Floating debris underneath or upstream of a bridge can significantly increase downstream flow velocities, which can worsen scour around piers and abutments. It can also increase water levels on the bridge and thereby cause large lateral and uplift pressures, which are especially problematic for masonry bridges since they rely on self-weight of masonry and fill to transfer load.

This project will aim to understand and characterize the hydrodynamic effects of debris blockage through a combination of laboratory experiments in flumes and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling. It will then develop a risk-based approach for assessing the scour, and uplift and lateral forces at individual bridges due to debris blockage during flood conditions, and incorporate this approach within existing guidance for the assessment of bridges under hydraulic action. The project will be arried out by a multi-disciplinary research team with a strong track record of generating impact, and assisted by an industry consortium composed of major stakeholders involved in UK bridge management.
Key Findings
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