Assessing flooding impact to riverine bridges: an integrated analysis

Hydraullic modelling 26.05.2022
  • Pregnolato, M.,
  • Winter, A.,
  • Mascarenas, D.,
  • Sen, A.,
  • Motley, M.

This paper establishes new modelling approaches for the design and assessment of transportation and water systems with the aim to understand the consequences of flooding on urban networks.

In any urban environment, bridges provide vital transportation routes that enable the movement of people, goods and services.

Extreme flood events, such as those witnessed during Storm Desmond in Cumbria in 2015, affect pieces of critical infrastructure; often creating barriers to critical links in times of emergencies. 

Of this, riverine bridges are highly susceptible to damage in times of flooding. This damage to bridges causes a number of dilemmas during and after an event. Bridges provide valuable links within any system and failure can have a high influence on the severity of an event. Moreover, in the wake of a flood, bridges are extremely expensive and time-consuming to repair. 

Research, such as that evidenced in this paper led by Maria Pregnolato, indicates that as we move forwards damage to linear assets such as bridges is only going to increase as a result of global changes (climate, socioeconomic, technological). 

The study uses Carlisle (UK) as a case study to analyse the impact that flooding has on transportation networks and water systems. As part of this, researchers investigate how the effects of an event can cascade if interdependencies among networks are not considered. 

By doing so, researchers have developed a modelling approach that considers preparedness plans within the design of urban systems. Using a method that does can ensure that key assets, such as water supply plants, are resilient to floods and therefore prevent people suffer from shortages or outages during extreme flooding. This research will help to fill the gap between current guidance for the design and assessment of bridges within the overall transport system.

To learn more, check out the full paper