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SUMMARY REPORT
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Hydraulics Laboratory Laboratory Assessment Summary Report

DATE: August 9 - 12, 2004
CHAIRMAN: E. V. Richardson, Ph.D., and P.E.
Professor Emeritus, Colorado State University
Sr. Associate, Ayres Associates

EXPERT/PEER REVIEW PANEL MEMBERS:

Scott A. Sabol, P.E.
Professor
Vermont Technical College
D. Max Sheppard, Ph.D.
President
Ocean Engineering Associates
Richard Long
Director, Research Center
Florida Department of Transportation
Stan Davis
MD State Highway Administration
Office of Bridge Development

Facilitator:

Barbara T. Harder
Principal
B.T. Harder, Inc

Overview of Hydraulics Laboratory

J. Sterling Jones Hydraulics Lab Manager 202-493-3043 sterling.jones@fhwa.dot.gov

The Hydraulics Laboratory provides a means of testing the hydraulic performance of highway drainage structures and stream crossings. To ensure safe travel in any instance when water meets our nation’s highways, the laboratory works to solve hydraulic and stream stability problems and supports operational engineers with design guidance and tools.

The Hydraulics Laboratory consists of a physical modeling component and a numerical modeling component that work in tandem; results are extrapolated from one and verified and calibrated by the other:

  • The physical modeling facility features a tilting flume capable of simulating 15 degrees longitudinal and cross slopes. The flume has a sediment recess for local scour modeling and a sediment trap connected to a sediment reticulation pump for limited live-bed scour studies. It has pumps with variable-frequency drives capable of simulating in-flow hydrographs. The facility also includes a culvert test facility for evaluating entrance loss coefficients of various types of culvert inlets.

  • The numerical modeling capability includes two-dimensional (2-D) and three-dimensional (3-D) modeling and features a 3-D sediment transport model capable of reproducing scour results that can be extended to field conditions. The 3-D model is a very effective research tool for extrapolating laboratory results to limits difficult to achieve with a physical model study.

Key Strengths and Observations

  • Research is relevant, high quality, and well executed, meeting State and national needs.

    • Woodrow Wilson Bridge foundation study saved an estimated $50 million.
    • Complex pier scour study done with the University of Florida resulted in better predictions of local pier scour.
    • Studies of riprap countermeasures for piers and abutments have been implemented in HEC-23, Bridge Scour and Stream Instability Countermeasures, and adopted by many State DOTs for increased safety nationwide.
    • Research results show up frequently in peer-reviewed journals.

  • Research products from the laboratory are recognized and used nationally and internationally.
    • HEC-18, Evaluating Scour at Bridges, serves as a national and international standard.
    • Various FHWA HEC and Hydraulic Design Series (HDS) manuals (particularly HDS-5, Hydraulic Design of Highway Culverts) have been translated for international use.
  • The laboratory expertise, experience, and facilities are well suited to address all three structure research and development focus areas.

  • Highly qualified support services staff have successfully operated and improved the laboratory over a period of more than 17 years. Support staff has been instrumental in developing, installing, and operating innovative procedures and equipment that make the laboratory state of the art.

Key Recommendations and Status of Current Activities

  1. Panel Recommendation: Climate control for the hydraulics lab.
    Action to be taken: 1) Obtain engineering services to evaluate feasibility, design system and estimate cost. 2) Program funds and installs system.
    Status as of 6/02/05: Approx. 5/5/05 met with Doreen McCarthy. Asked for interview with the consultants who will be developing the long-range capital improvements plan for TFHRC. May ‘06 Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: 1) On 08/02/05 met with Stephen Sakach from Facility Engineering Associates to discuss capital improvements for the Laboratory. 2) On 8/24/05 explained to Paula Ewin that Hydraulics Laboratory has no climate control and could cause instrumentation problems – On-going, FY07/FY08, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/05/06: On July 06, Met with Brian Kerr and Masoud Nasabzadeh. Climate control is included in FY07 maintenance budget and was added to the CIP performed by FEA, Inc. Completed

  2. Panel Recommendation: Maintenance of Tilting Flume.
    Action to be taken: 1) Diagnosis by facility management. 2) Procure parts and make repairs.
    Status as of 6/02/05: On-going, April ‘05, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: A capital improvement plan for the Laboratory will be completed in FY06. Actions will be taken after this is completed. On-going, FY07/FY08, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/05/06: On Sept 06, the pump and VFD of the tilting flume was inspected and serviced. Completed

  3. Panel Recommendation: Modify Tilting Flume Entrance for better flow distribution.
    Action to be taken: 1) Assign to new Hydraulics Engineer. Does an in-house feasibility study? 2) If feasible, develop plan to include sediment recirculation capability. 3) Issue contract for fabrication and installation.
    Status as of 6/02/05: New Engineers assigned - March ‘06, Target Completion Date 06.
    Status as of 3/28/06: Will be included in Capital Improvement Plan Laboratory report. See item 2. On-going, FY07/FY08, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/05/06: Several flume modification alternatives and cost estimates are included in the CIP Laboratory report. Completed

  4. Panel Recommendation: Holographic PIV capability.
    Action to be taken: 1) Scope scientific equipment needs and determine feasibility. 2) Purchase equipment, test and develop system.
    Status as of 6/02/05: Will depend on availability and priorities for scientific equipment budget. March ‘06, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: 1) Will be included in Capital Improvement Plan Laboratory report. 2) Intended T.O. on “Pier Scour Countermeasures using Fluidic Devices” (Oct. 2006) with Support Services Contractor has a sub task to develop and to apply real 3D (holographic) PIV using a color-coded light sheet. On-going, FY07 Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/05/06: 1) Cost estimate for real 3D (holographic) PIV is included in the CIP Laboratory report. 2) On July 06, a camera for R-3D PIV was purchased. Completed

  5. Panel Recommendation: Laser Doppler System.
    Action to be taken: 1) Assign to new Hydraulics Engineer. 2) Do a market search for comparable instrumentation. 3) Program funds and purchase equipment.
    Status as of 6/02/05: On-going, March ‘06, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: 1) 6/05 Market search for a laser Doppler system indicates it is a $100K item. 2) Will be included in Capital Improvement Plan Laboratory report. See item 2. On-going, FY07/FY08, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/05/06: A detailed cost analysis and market search for a LDA system is included in the CIP laboratory report. Completed

  6. Panel Recommendation: Strengthen Numerical Modeling capability via more sophisticated computer equipment.
    Action to be taken: 1)Obtain field-view graphics software. 2) Assess other computer needs.
    Status as of 6/02/05: On 3/05 we obtained and tested the DEMO version of Field-view and intend to purchase a 2-yr lease agreement. FY ‘07, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: 1) The Capital Improvement Plan Laboratory report will discuss this issue and will suggest alternatives. 2) 11/17/05 discussed at a joint HIBT/HRDI meeting the option has a second FTE in Hydraulics Research responsible for numerical modeling. FY ’07, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/05/06: 1) New software options and related costs are in the CIP lab report. 2) Coordinate with Steve Chase and other Lab Managers to take advantage of super computers (ANL) for CFD simulations. Completed

  7. Panel Recommendation: Improve Flume for moveable bed experiments.
    Action to be taken: 1) Assign to new Hydraulics Engineer. Does in-house feasibility study? 2) If feasible, develop plan to include sediment recirculation capability. 3) Issue contract for fabrication and installation.
    Status as of 6/02/05: On-going, March ‘06, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: Will be included in Capital Improvement Plan Laboratory report. See item 2. On-going, FY07/FY08, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/05/06: Design alternatives are in the CIP lab report. See item 3 above. Completed

  8. Panel Recommendation: Add laboratory space for perceived future activities such as erosion function apparatus (EFA) testing.
    Action to be taken: 1) Consider for long-range capital improvement. The lab could be extended onto the storage pad in the rear. 2) Reallocate use of existing space.
    Status as of 6/02/05: On 5/5/05, plan to interview consultants who will be developing the long-range capital improvements plan for TFHRC. FY ’08, Target Completion Date.1)
    Status as of 3/28/06: On 8/02/05 discussed this with Stephen Sakach. See item 1. 2) Will be included in Capital Improvement Plan Laboratory report. See item 2. On-going, FY07/FY08, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/05/06: July ’06, first major rearrangements to gain Lab space are completed. More advanced options are included in the CIP lab report. Completed

  9. Panel Recommendation: Centralize Software (numerical model) support.
    Action to be taken: l) Coordinate with HIBT, and the Resource Center in addressing a corporate plan for numerical model support. 2) Consider the numerical modeler under the support services contract for maintenance and tech assistance. 3) Set up a pooled fund account for software support and maintenance.
    Status as of 6/02/05: Tom Harman has taken the lead in setting up a work group to come up with an agency policy on software maintenance and support. On 2/2/05 discussion with Myint Lwin about this item. The FHWA national hydraulics team has been moving towards using the BYU SMS as the umbrella for all highway drainage software. We have established a mutually beneficial relationship with BYU where they provide a user friendly graphical interface for FHWA engineering programs, provide maintenance support and extend license agreements to FHWA and State Highway agencies for a nominal fee. Mr. Lwin does not favor using FHWA funds to provide license agreements to States; should be a role for AASHTO or a similar group. Discussed setting up a pooled-fund account where each State could put in $1K or $2K per year and perpetually maintain and enhance the highway drainage software system. We plan to test that idea at the next AASHTO task committee meeting. On 5/10/05, Sterling Jones discussed options for maintaining highway drainage software with members of the AASHTO task committee on hydraulics and hydrology. The State DOT representatives voted to encourage FHWA to continue supporting this software. The AASHTO liaison to the task committee did not think AASHTO had the technical expertise in hydraulics or a cost effective mechanism for maintaining this type of software. Oct ’05, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: 1) The numerical modeler under the support services contract for maintenance and technical assistance can currently not be funded. 2) To setup a pooled fund account for software support and maintenance will be discussed again at the AASHTO task committee on hydraulics and hydrology in Apr 06. FY 05/FY 06, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/05/06: FHWA management is not in favor of FHWA providing license agreements to States and providing long-term software support. Completed

  10. Panel Recommendation: Post data from previous laboratory and field studies on web site.
    Action to be taken: 1) see item 12 below. 2) Use pointers to access USGS databases for field data.
    Status as of 6/02/05: On 2/3/05 met with website planning group including Terry Halkyard, Michelle Cribbs, Betsy Joyce (webmaster), Jorge Pagan to format a Hydraulics web page with links to the research web page; discussed protocols for posting experimental lab data. On 3/17/05 met with ICF Consultants, represented by Mark Youman, to discuss merits of an agency web site arrangement for sharing technical information internally and with external customers. Deborah Gwaltney, NHI e-learn program manager, is the COTR for a contract with ICF. Feb ’05, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: Coordinate routinely with Terry Halkyard, Michelle Cribbs (HIBT) and support services contractor to update the Hydraulics Research website, posting reports and experimental data on the web. Completed

  11. Panel Recommendation: Formalize processes for technical quality control of lab reports and internally developed numerical models.
    Action to be taken: 1) Obtain at least one technical review other than lab manager for lab reports. Include names of reviews on technical documentation form. 2) Use physical models to verity numerical model results. Request peer reviews by other agencies for complicated numerical models. 3) Develop a notebook of standard operating procedures for the laboratory. 4) Make this as a topic of discussion for the office leadership group to determine if other disciplines have Q.C. procedures in place. 5) Document need for additional staff to maintain Q.C. in TCT report.
    Status as of 6/02/05: 11/01/04 included message in TCT report that emphasizes need for additional staff to maintain Q.C. That is the first thing that suffers when staffing gets too thin. FY ’05, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: 1) 11/01/04 included message in TCT report that emphasizes need for additional staff to maintain Q.C. This is the first thing that suffers when staffing gets too thin. 2) Implemented recommendation in the standard operating procedure setting up a Task Order Proposal Request (T.O.P.R) for support services contractor. Setup a process to involve an independent expert consultant for every future study. In addition draft reports will be reviewed by at least 2 independent experts. FY 06/FY 07, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/05/06: April ’06, Implemented recommendation in the standard operating procedure setting up T.O.P.R for the support services contractor. Setup a process to involve an independent expert consultant for every future study. In addition draft reports will be reviewed by at least 2 independent experts. Completed

  12. Panel Recommendation: Increase emphasis on documentation of small studies and an archiving process of research result.
    Action to be taken: 1.Modify the TFHRC web page to include a real time list of publications by disciplines that is automatically updated a new publications are posted. 2. Systematically post lab reports on the web page. 3. Document and post laboratory results used to generate recommended procedures and laboratory reports. 4. Implement a system for the TFHRC Webmaster to solicited new activities from managers of web page disciplines.
    Status as of 6/02/05: Feb. ’05 Terry Halkyard set up a database of all R&D publications Hydraulics R&D publications are automatically posted under the Hydraulics list of publications as they come on line. FY ’05, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: 1) Jan 06 updated hydraulics research website including the National Hydraulics Research Program for FY06. 2) Implemented recommendation in the standard operating procedure setting up T.O.P.R for the support services contractor. Every future report delivered will fulfill the requirements to be posted on the hydraulics research website. FY ’05/FY ‘06’, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/05/06: We update the Hydraulics Research website routinely (last update August 06). Completed

  13. Panel Recommendation: Explore arrangements for keeping LRFD specifications on bridge scour and hydraulics current.
    Action to be taken: Work with the FHWA Office of Bridge Technology and AASHTO. Consider suggestions from the program office on this recommendation.
    Status as of 6/02/05: On-going – FY ‘05Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: 06/15/05 met with Firas Ibrahim (HIBT) to discuss LRFD specifications on bridge hydraulics. On-going – FY ‘05/ FY ’06,Completed

  14. Panel Recommendation: Negotiate long-term Laboratory support contracts.
    Action to be taken: Consideration should be given to a longer term for the contract for laboratory support, given that the learning curve may be up to a year for some activities in the laboratory. In addition, contract staff members may not be a productive or cost-effective in the final months of a contract or be as interested in longer-germ studies if their future with the laboratory is in doubt. One approach may be options for contract extension beyond the bases performance period.
    Status as of 6/02/05: The RD&T business philosophy is to recompete contracts at least once every five years to bring in new ideas to our programs. Although there is a potential to disrupt our program, it has not been any more a problem than having key personnel leave a contractor for better opportunities. Feb ’05, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: Completed

  15. Panel Recommendation: Mentor future laboratory manager. Consider an interagency advisory team.
    Action to be taken: 1) Use overlap period with current laboratory manager to establish network with other agencies. 2) Assign new manager as NCHRP liaison on several projects. 3) Assign new manager as the FHWA representative on at least one existing interagency committee or task force.
    Status as of 6/02/05: On 11/09/04 Jorge and Sterling met with Kornel Kerenyi to discuss development strategy. FY ’05 Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: Completed

  16. Panel Recommendation: Consider super grades for nationally recognized technical experts.
    Status as of 6/02/05: RD&T considers this issue in work force planning. The agency considers it in the Technical Career Track (TCT) program. Oct ’04, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: The agency considers it in the Technical Career Track (TCT) program. Completed

  17. Panel Recommendation: Clarify back-up roles when laboratory manager is out.
    Action to be taken: Clarify back-up roles with team leader and laboratory staff.
    Status as of 6/02/05: Effective use of voice mail and cell phones alleviates the lack of staff for back-up coverage. Dec ’04, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: Team Leader is the back up person for the Laboratory. Completed

  18. Panel Recommendation: Strengthen Numerical Modeling capability by adding dedicated FHWA staff. Increase Federal staff in hydraulics to two permanent people; one for physical modeling, one for numerical modeling.
    Status as of 6/02/05: 1) We increased the support services numerical modeling contract position from half time to full time 10/01/04. 2) Adding a FTE for a numerical modeler is not a reasonable expectation in the current political climate, which is to privatize those functions that can be done by the private sector. Oct ’04, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: 11/17/05 discussed at a joint HIBT/HRDI meeting the option of having a second full time employee in Hydraulics research responsible for numerical modeling. FY ‘05/ FY ’06,Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/05/06: 1) Currently no FTE available. 2) Planning to und a numerical modeler under the support services contract in FY07. Completed

  19. Panel Recommendation: Use contract research to augment the hydraulic laboratory in resolving specific problems.
    Action to be taken: 1) Continue to maintain a working relationship with other laboratories with a coordinated contract research program. 2) Encourage SP&R and NCHRP research to augment FHWA’s research budget.
    Status as of 6/02/05: Ongoing – We do this routinely.
    Status as of 3/28/06: Contracts with Texas A&M, University of Florida. On-going, Completed

  20. Panel Recommendation: Discuss at highest level the impact of dropping hydraulic research that is not covered by the three-focus area of (FHWA Infrastructure research).
    Action to be taken: 1) Communicate or strategic plan to the Hydraulics and hydrology AASHTO task committee. 2) Encourage States to use SP&R pooled funds to support laboratory studies that we can’t fund. 3) Coordinate with HIBT to set aside funds for studies needed to enhance HEC’s
    Status as of 6/02/05: – Ian Friedland’s interpretation of bridges including other structures such as culverts and storm drain systems resolves this concern. Dec ’05, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: 1) National Hydraulics Research Program for FY06 includes culvert and storm drain research. 2) Apr 06 Maryland SHA and FHWA are initiating a pooled fund study on “Low Flow Culvert Hydraulics”. Continuing – Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/05/06: The FHWA Bridge Program Strategic Plan includes consideration of H&H problems. Completed

  21. Panel Recommendation: Formalize the project selection process under the new (HRDI) team structure.
    Action to be taken: 1)Hydraulics research program manager is responsible for identifying research that will support goals of our strategic plan. 2) Team leaders are responsible for prioritizing research and accounting for funds.
    Status as of 6/02/05: On 11/01/04 sent FY-04 topics for all three-focus areas to Shelia Duwadi. On 11/16/04 Jorge Pagan hosted a strategy meeting on Unknown Foundations research. Attended by Sam Mansukhani, Jerry DiMaggio, Cynthia Nurmi, Ian Friedland, Khmis Harmany, Michelle Cribbs, Jose Krolak and Sterling Jones. Cynthia, Sam & Khamis will prepare RFP for a Synthesis study and we are planning a summit on Unknown foundations in Nov 2005. On 3/11/05 a new hydraulics roadmap, which includes headquarters activities as well as research, was presented to the national hydraulics team for discussion. That roadmap will be maintained on the Hydraulics web site and discussed periodically during team meetings. We have set up an executive subgroup in the hydraulics team to vote prioritize projects for funding in a given year. Dec ’04, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 3/28/06: 1) FY05 a synthesis study on “Unknown Foundations” was awarded and a summit on “Unknown Foundations” was conducted. 2) 12/06/05 FHWA National Hydraulics team organized a symposium on wave forces, which is a part of a national hurricane mitigation program. 3) Feb 2006 the National Hydraulic Research Program was discussed and finalized at the spring FY06 NHT meeting. Continuing – Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/05/06: 1) Feb ’06 the National Hydraulic Research Program was discussed and finalized at the spring FY06 NHT meeting. 2) July 07: HIBT and Hydraulics R&D completed a joint strategic plan. Completed

  22. Panel Recommendation: Encourage State sponsored research that has universal results or that can be piggybacked to produce universal results.
    Action to be taken: 1) Communicate or strategic plan to the Hydraulics and hydrology AASHTO task committee. 2) Encourage States to use SP&R pooled funds to support lab studies that we can’t fund. 3) Coordinate with HIBT to set aside funds for studies needed to enhance HEC’s.
    Status as of 6/02/05: Continuing.
    Status as of 3/28/06: This recommendation is a consequence of item 20 above and was taken as a suggestion for expanding our investigations in the laboratory beyond bridges. It is resolved by the broad interpretation of bridge structures.
    Status as of 10/05/06: 1) April 06 Maryland SHA and FHWA initiated pooled fund study on “Low Flow Culvert Hydraulics” (TPF-074). 2) Other pooled fund studies will be initiated as deemed import by FHWA, AASHTO, H&H and stakeholders. Completed

  23. Panel Recommendation: Encourage policy of writing papers for peer review.
    Action to be taken: Accept recommendation. Seek more active roles in professional societies.
    Status as of 6/02/05: – Continuing.
    Status as of 3/28/06: 1) Our individual work plans include a requirement for writing technical papers as part of professional development. 2) Public Roads articles (Sept/Oct 2005), Jan/Feb 2006). Continuing – Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/05/06: Completed

Key Recommendations and Activities were completed October 5, 2006.

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