Water Center


Date of this Version



United States Geological Survey, Scientific Investigations Report 2014-5062

doi: 10.3133/sir20145062



United States government work


In 2011, unprecedented flooding in the Missouri River prompted transportation agencies to increase the frequency of monitoring riverbed elevations near bridges that cross the Missouri River. Hydrographic surveys were completed in cooperation with the Nebraska Department of Roads, using a multibeam echosounder at 15 highway bridges spanning the Missouri River from Niobrara to Rulo, Nebraska during and after the extreme 2011 flood.

Evidence of bed elevation change near bridge piers was documented. The greatest amount of bed elevation change during the 2011 flood documented for this study occurred at the Burt County Missouri River Bridge at Decatur, Nebraska, where scour of about 45 feet, from before flooding, occurred between a bridge abutment and pier. Of the remaining sites, highway bridges where bed elevation change near piers appeared to have exceeded 10 feet include the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge at Blair, Nebraska, Bellevue Bridge at Bellevue, Nebraska, and Nebraska City Bridge at Nebraska City, Nebraska.

Hydrographic surveys at 14 of the 15 sites were completed in mid-July and again in early October or late-November 2011. Near three of the bridges, the bed elevation of locations surveyed in July increased by more than 10 feet, on average, by late October or early November 2011. Bed elevations increased between 1 and 10 feet, on average, near six bridges. Near the remaining four bridges, bed elevations decreased between 1 and 4 feet, on average, from July to late October or early November.