This month, we’ve introduced you to Collaborative Hydraulics: Advancing to the Next Generation of Engineering (CHANGE) along with its benefits and tools. In Colorado, 2D modeling helped the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) respond to a flood event by improving safety of some roadways and bridges and reducing project costs during repair and replacement.

In 2013, flooding caused a federal disaster declaration in northeast Colorado. The South Platte River separated communities near I-25 and US 85 as it flooded. After the flood, one bridge over this river at US 60 needed replacement, and during exploration of the 2D model, CDOT discovered if they raised the highway five additional inches, residents could have safe, dry-land access between I-25 and US 85.

Along the same river at State Highway 144 near Orchard, CDOT was able to cut project costs in half to protect the roadway from future flooding. 2D hydraulic analysis focused on the critical part of the roadway and provided the State information on how water interacted with it. This information led the State to change the material on the project from rock to turf mat. This change reduced the cost of the project from $4.1 million to $2.1 million.

Two-dimensional model of the South Platte River at State Highway 144. This model shows flow direction indicated by arrows and shear stress indicated by color.
Results of 2D analysis showing shear stresses on the overtopping section of SH 144 near Orchard, Colorado. (Credit: Colorado DOT)

Since adopting 2D hydraulic modeling, CDOT has delivered safer, more efficient, cost-effective projects and estimates it has realized approximately $14 million in savings.

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