Streamlining of Bridge Piers as Scour Countermeasures Optimization of Cross Sections

Junhong Li, Junliang Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Bridge scour is one of the most critical causes of bridge failure. Existing scour countermeasures either passively prevent the development of scour holes by stabilizing the critical shear zone or actively reduce the turbulence intensity in the vicinity of the pier surface. This paper proposes streamlining of the bridge pier as an option to reduce turbulence intensity actively in the local zone and thus decrease overall local scour potential. The effect of the curvature of the pier cross section was evaluated with computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations. To reduce computational cost, two-dimensional CFD simulations were conducted to model the flow fields around test cases having different pier cross sections. Simulation results were systematically analyzed and compared to evaluate the effect of streamlining on the flow field. The cross section that resulted in the smallest value of the maximum bed shear stress was selected as the optimal cross section for the subsequent threedimensional (3-D) study, which investigated the vortex structures around the pier. Results from this 3-D simulation were compared with those from two other test cases, in which piers had cross-section shapes that are commonly seen in practice. The pier model with the optimal cross section was found to significantly reduce the downward velocity in front of the piers, the maximum bed shear stress, and the overall scour potential. These findings are expected to inform the design of optimal streamlined piers for newly proposed bridges, which could diminish the overall scour potential around piers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-171
Number of pages10
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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