Development of a Culvert Evaluation Program and Stream Crossing Design

Northampton DPW Team: Tyler Feeney, Maia Tooley, Molly Day

2018-2019: In collaboration with the Northampton Department of Public Works, this student team developed a culvert evaluation program to provide an objective method for prioritizing culverts for replacement for the City. Culverts are a vital part of existing infrastructure that allow for stream and organism passage underneath roads.

The team conducted numerous site visits to culverts, reviewed existing culvert evaluation protocols, and iteratively developed a two-sided culvert evaluation form that combines both structural and ecological concerns. The team refined the form based on input from multiple local and national reviewers with water resources expertise. The team packaged the form with a guidance manual, a condensed reference sheet for field work, ecological priority area shapefiles in GIS, and a culvert scoring system and database. The team also completed a verification case study of a local culvert directly before and after replacement and demonstrated that the scoring system effectively enables culvert prioritization for both structural and ecological health.

This project received a 2019 National Council of Engineering Examiners and Surveyors (NCEES) Engineering Education Award in recognition of the students’ collaboration with professional engineers.