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Structural design of floodways under extreme flood loading

Isaac Greene (Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)
Weena Lokuge (Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Health Engineering and Sciences, University of Southern Queensland, Springfield, Australia)
Warna Karunasena (Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying, University of Southern Queensland – Springfield Campus, Springfield Central, Australia)

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1759-5908

Article publication date: 28 May 2020

Issue publication date: 26 August 2020




Current methods for floodway design are predominately based on hydrological and hydraulic design principles. The purpose of this paper is to investigate a finite element methods approach for the inclusion of a simplified structural design method into floodway design procedures.


This research uses a three-dimensional finite element method to investigate numerically the different parameters, geometric configurations and loading combinations which cause floodway vulnerability during extreme flood events. The worst-case loading scenario is then used as the basis for design from which several structural design charts are deduced. These charts enable design bending moments and shear forces to be extracted and the cross-sectional area of steel and concrete to be designed in accordance with the relevant design codes for strength, serviceability and durability.


It was discovered that the analysed floodway structure is most vulnerable when impacted by a 4-tonne boulder, a 900 mm cut-off wall depth and with no downstream rock protection. Design charts were created, forming a simplified structural design process to strengthen the current hydraulic design approach provided in current floodway design guidelines. This developed procedure is demonstrated through application with an example floodway structural design.


The deduced structural design process will ensure floodway structures have adequate structural resilience, aiding in reduced maintenance and periods of unserviceability in the wake of extreme flood events.



The authors would like to acknowledge the Lockyer Valley Regional Council for providing information relating to floodways and the support of the Commonwealth of Australia through the Cooperative Research Centre program; Bushfire and Natural Hazard CRC and the Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship. This comes as part of a bigger project on “Enhancing the resilience of critical road infrastructure: brides, culverts and floodways” funded by Bush Fire and Natural Hazards CRC Ltd, Australia.


Greene, I., Lokuge, W. and Karunasena, W. (2020), "Structural design of floodways under extreme flood loading", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 535-555.



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