Culvert Designs for Terrestrial Wildlife Passage Hydraulic Function
Wildlife & Ecosystems
Culvert and bridge design involve safely passing floods and debris while minimizing instability and maintenance requirements. Culverts and bridges also have the potential to reduce wildlife-vehicle conflicts (WVC) by facilitating safe passage of wildlife beneath roadways. Although WVC are widespread and pose serious risks to motorists, current culvert and bridge design methods do not include guidance on incorporating elements that simultaneously reduce the likelihood of WVC and improve hydraulic performance (flood conveyance without overtopping, debris accumulation, and/or erosion) to achieve a higher level of public safety. Further, permitting of stream crossings / culverts by environmental agencies can be delayed by concerns about wildlife passage. Therefore, there is an opportunity to address these concerns while enhancing public safety and general infrastructure resiliency.
Wildlife-vehicle conflicts are a national issue and much has been done at great cost to study migration patterns for individual project considerations. Wildlife-specific passages have been utilized in WVC hot spots, but typically at significant cost. Culverts and bridges can be utilized for wildlife passage, but there has not been a comprehensive study that analyzes various methods with considerations for hydraulic efficiency. Culverts and bridges typically have a long lifespan and every new structure that does not accommodate terrestrial wildlife is a missed opportunity. Developing effective methodologies for designing and adapting these structures to accommodate terrestrial wildlife can begin a comprehensive approach to reducing WVC.
Georgia Department of Transportation
June 4, 2019
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