Rapid Diagnostic Framework for Assessing Bridge and Culvert Sensitivity to Hydraulic Forcing


Flooding, intense scour, and bank erosion often contribute to the failure of bridges and culverts. While geomorphic assessment techniques have been devised to evaluate whether structures are vulnerable to the effects of high-magnitude flooding, they generally require prolonged onsite appraisals. Because of financial constraints, however, many state transportation agencies cannot hire staff dedicated solely to geomorphic assessments. As such, agencies can benefit enormously from having access to a simple, holistic, and robust method for quickly evaluating the sensitivity of bridges and culverts to severe hydraulic forcings - one that leverages data gathered during existing inspection routines and accounts for the condition of structures and their criticality. This paper outlines the development and application of the Bridge and Culvert Sensitivity Index (BCSI), which was originally created on behalf of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Using information from the National Bridge Inventory and Cabinet-specific inspection data points, the BCSI (when combined with geostatistical methods and dynamic mapping) facilitates a multilevel hierarchical analysis of bridge and culvert inventories, allowing agency personnel to quickly appraise the performance of structures from the district level down to the level of individual structures. Applying the BCSI in Kentucky identified clusters of bridges and culverts in the western, eastern, and north-central parts of the state that exhibit heightened sensitivity to hydraulic forcings.

Document Type





Bridge, Culvert, Flooding, Geomorphic assessment, Scour, Spatial analysis

Publication Date


Journal Title

Natural Hazards Review