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Introduction to Highway Hydraulics

Hydraulic Design Series No. 4

Publication No. FHWA-NHI-08-090

June 2008

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Technical Report Documentation Page
1. Report No.
FHWA NHI-08-090 (HDS-4)
2. Government Accession No. 3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle
Introduction to Highway Hydraulics
Hydraulic Design Series No. 4
5. Report Date
June 2008
6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)
James D. Schall, Everett V. Richardson, and Johnny L. Morris
8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address
Ayres Associates Inc
3665 JFK Parkway, Bldg. 2, Suite 200
Fort Collins, Colorado 80525
10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)
11. Contract or Grant No.
12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address
National Highway Institute (NHI) and
Office of Bridge Technology (HIBT)
Federal Highway Administration
Washington, D.C. 20590
13. Type of Report and Period Covered
Final Report (4th Edition)
14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes
Project Manager: Veronica Ghelardi
Technical Assistance: Jorge Pagán-Ortiz, Cynthia Nurmi, and Dan Ghere

Hydraulic Design Series No. 4 provides an introduction to highway hydraulics. Hydrologic techniques presented concentrate on methods suitable to small areas, since many components of highway drainage (culverts, storm drains, ditches, etc.) service primarily small areas. A brief review of fundamental hydraulic concepts is provided, including continuity, energy, momentum, hydrostatics, weir flow and orifice flow. The document then presents open channel flow principles and design applications, followed by a parallel discussion of closed conduit principles and design applications. Open channel applications include discussion of stable channel design and pavement drainage. Closed conduit applications include culvert and storm drain design. Examples are provided to help illustrate important concepts. An overview of energy dissipators is provided and the document concludes with a brief discussion of construction, maintenance and economic issues.

As the title suggests, Hydraulic Design Series No. 4 provides only an introduction to the design of highway drainage facilities and should be particularly useful for designers and engineers without extensive drainage training or experience. More detailed information on each topic discussed is provided by other Hydraulic Design Series and Hydraulic Engineering Circulars.

This publication is an update of the third edition. Revisions were necessary to reflect new information given in the third edition of HEC-14 (Hydraulic Design of Energy Dissipators for Culverts and Channels), the third edition of HEC-15 (Design of Roadside Channels with Flexible Linings), and the third edition of HEC-22 (Urban Drainage Design Manual).

Key Words
Hydrology, hydraulics, highway drainage, open channels, roadside ditches, pavement drainage, inlets, closed conduits, culverts, storm drains, energy dissipators
Distribution Statement
This document is available to the public from the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, Virginia 22161
19. Security Classif. (of this report)
20. Security Classif. (of this page)
21. No. of Pages
22. Price
Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized


First Edition
The first edition of this Hydraulic Design Series was published in May 1965, under the name "Design of Roadside Channels" (Government Printing Office Stock Number 050-001-00068-7, Catalog Number TD 2.33:4). It was part of a series of publications on the hydraulic design of highway drainage structures published by the Bureau of Public Roads. This document focused on methods of open-channel design including determining both size of channel and protection required to prevent erosion. The first edition was written by Mr. James Searcy, FHWA Bridge Division, and was a revision of Hydraulic Engineering Circular No. 6 of the same title released in April 1962.

Second Edition
The second edition was published in June 1997 (FHWA HI 97-028). It was a completely re-written document that provided more information on open channel flow fundamentals, as well as information on the design of storm drains, culverts, and energy dissipators. The vision to provide a more comprehensive introductory level reference for designers working in highway hydraulics, along with a new National Highway Institute training course for the same, was developed by Mr. Johnny Morris, Region IV Hydraulic Engineer. Mr. Morris served as the FHWA Project Manager for the second edition, with technical assistance from FHWA Staff including Phil Thompson, Abbi Ginsberg, Chris Dunn, and Arlo Waddoups. This edition was written by Drs. James D. Schall and Everitt V. Richardson, Ayres Associates, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Third Edition
The third edition (FHWA NHI 01-019) was published in August 2001, as an update to the second edition. The most significant changes were the conversion to a dual unit format, and the deletion of a comprehensive design example in Appendix C that was too complicated for an introductory level treatment of highway drainage. Typographic errors were also corrected. The FHWA Project Manager was Mr. Jorge Pagán-Ortiz, with technical assistance from Mr. Phil Thompson. The updates were prepared by Dr. James Schall and Mr. Johnny Morris, Ayres Associates, Fort Collins, Colorado.

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