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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-072
Date: July 2006
Assessing Stream Channel Stability At Bridges in Physiographic Regions
5. MODIFICATIONS OF THORNE'S RECONNAISSANCE SHEETS
The stream stability assessment method developed in chapter 4 is self-contained and does not require any other data or formal method of data collection other than the descriptors given in table 8. However, it is prudent to develop field forms that help observers focus attention on specific aspects of a stream, be consistent in those observations, and systematically record their observations. For this purpose, the Thorne reconnaissance field sheets are the best method available for systematically collecting stream channel data. There are several problems with using the reconnaissance field sheets developed by Thorne for highway-related purposes. (2) First, it is not clear that this highly detailed and time-consuming level of data collection is necessary to assess stream stability or stream response at a bridge. In addition, bridge inspectors generally cannot and will not take the time to collect this level of data, as it is out of line with the overall inspection process. Second, even when all of the detailed data are collected, there is no guidance within the method for interpreting the data. Third, few inspectors and hydraulic engineers have appropriate backgrounds to identify geological parameters, such as rock type. To develop a rapid stability assessment method, a simplified version of the Thorne reconnaissance sheets should be created specifically for use in training and data collection associated with assessing stream stability at bridges.
The stream stability method developed for this report is based on data collected through the reconnaissance. However, given that bridge inspection requires only assessment of stream stability in the short term and since each bridge is inspected at least every 2 years, data collection requirements can be simplified to reflect this less detailed and rapid assessment. In addition, several aspects of the sheets required minimal revision. Interpretive observations, while critical to communicating between observers, are neglected in the revised sheets because, in a rapid assessment, most of the qualitative data are collected by an inspector who is interpreting what he or she observes. All inspections require written reports in which the inspector provides his or her judgment on the status of the overall bridge condition and maintenance needs. In addition, items on the sheet that cannot be assessed in a very brief site visit are excluded from the revised sheets. The simplified and revised data collection sheets, based strongly on Thorne's reconnaissance sheets, are given in figures 18-20.
In addition to the stability assessment, keeping a record of channel dimensions upstream and downstream of the bridge will provide a history of changes in width and depth. Although detailed surveys are not part of a bridge inspection, a simple measurement of station and elevation upstream of the bridge taken annually will provide adequate cross-sectional information to assess longer term changes. Without this information, gradual but continual changes in the channel may be overlooked.