FHWA NHI Bridge Hydraulics Course Development & Training

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Ayres develops and presents Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) National Highway Institute (NHI) training courses to state departments of transportation and other bridge owners nationwide. Ayres’ fourth indefinite delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract is the latest in a total of 22 years of teaching hundreds of courses. Ayres is also responsible for developing many of the FHWA manuals that these courses are based on. The courses include PDHs and CEUs.

Award-winning work under the IDIQ contract from 2006 to 2012 included the presentation of 10 different hydraulics courses a total of 265 times to approximately 6,600 participants in 42 states. Our course development, updating, and delivery work under this contract includes the following:

Course 135095 2-Dimensional Modeling

Ayres provides lead instruction for this course on the use of SMS/SRH for analyzing river processes. The three-day course is taught to state departments of transportation, local governments, and private consultants throughout the United States.

Course 135046 Stream Stability and Scour at Highway Bridges

This course provides comprehensive training on the effects of contraction, pier and abutment scour, stream instability, erosion, and stream aggradation and degradation. Material for the course comes from two Hydraulic Engineering Circulars (HEC), “Evaluating Scour at Bridges” (HEC-18) and “Stream Stability at Highway Structures” (HEC-20), both developed by Ayres. The course instructor guide, participant workbook, and manuals were updated in 2012, and three online prerequisite modules were developed to support the scour courses.

Course 135047 Stream Stability and Scour at Highway Bridges for Bridge Inspectors

Ayres teaches Course 135047, a one-day version of Course 135046, for bridge inspectors. Work included developing an instructor guide, a participant workbook, and a field guide for bridge inspectors. Web-ready closed caption video and web prerequisites support this course.

Course 135048 Countermeasures for Scour and Stream Instability

This course provides guidance on designing countermeasures for stream instability and scour problems at bridges. The instructor guide and participant workbooks were revised in 2009 to incorporate design guideline workshops. Animations on bridge scour and stream stability were developed. Material for the course comes primarily from HEC-23, “Bridge Scour and Stream Instability Countermeasures,” developed by Ayres. In 2009 HEC-23 was expanded to two volumes, 19 design guidelines were prepared, and the manual was formatted for posting online. Web-ready closed caption video and web prerequisites support this course.

Course 135041 HEC-RAS River Analysis System

This three-day course includes hands-on instruction on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ HEC-RAS computer program for hydraulic analysis, including water surface profile computations (subcritical and supercritical flow), bridge hydraulics, culvert hydraulics, flood encroachments, split flow options, and multiple bridge openings. Course 135041A is a 3.5-day version of this course that includes advanced topics.

Course 135010 River Engineering for Highway Encroachments

This graduate-level course provides training in alluvial channel flow, fluvial geomorphology, sediment transport, and river mechanics. Material for this course comes from Hydraulic Design Series (HDS) 6, “River Engineering for Highway Encroachments,” updated by Ayres in 2001.

Course 135065 Introduction to Highway Hydraulics

This course is based on HDS 4, “Introduction to Highway Hydraulics,” developed and updated by Ayres. The objective of the course is to provide a broad overview of basic highway drainage concepts. In-class instruction is supported by a portable hydraulics flume.

Course 135056 Culvert Design

This course provides recommended design procedures for the hydraulic design of culverts. Material for the course comes primarily from “Hydraulic Design of Highway Culverts,” HDS 5. Ayres updated the course and manual in 2012. In-class instruction is supported by a portable hydraulics flume.

Course 135027/8 Urban Drainage Design/Pump Station Design

The three-day course (134027) provides detailed instruction on urban roadway drainage design. The four-day course (135027A) includes stormwater pump station design. The pump station design portion of the course is available as a one-day course (135028).

Course 135090 “Hydraulic Design of Safe Bridges”

Ayres developed Course 135090 “Hydraulic Design of Safe Bridges” and the supporting reference manual HDS 7 in 2012. The HDS 7 manual provides guidance on the hydraulic analysis and design of bridges. The goal is to apply 1- and 2- dimensional computer modeling techniques so that bridges can be designed as safely as possible while optimizing costs and limiting potential impacts to property and the environment.

Preparation for New Instructors

Ayres has made significant efforts to add new instructors to the instructor pool and has developed a strategy for systematically improving the skills and capabilities of our instructors. Instructor training and development efforts include sponsoring a Toastmasters Club in our office, getting our instructors to the NHI Instructor Development Training (four in 2012), and meeting all requirements for our instructors to be certified by NHI.

Teaching Flume

Ayres developed and has continued to use and improve the integration of the portable, table-top hydraulics flume to demonstrate basic concepts of open channel flow and culvert hydraulics for Courses 135056 and 135065. The flume has literally become the instructional centerpiece of these very popular courses. It was featured at several FHWA National Hydraulic Engineering Conferences.

Audience Response System

The 2012 update of Course 135046 and development of the new Safe Bridges Course (135090) included integration of an Audience Response System (ARS) into the course to enhance participant interaction and reinforcement of learning outcomes.

Course Delivery Awards

Course delivery activities from 2006 to 2012 resulted in numerous NHI awards to Ayres instructors and course administrators including:

  • 14 Instructor of Excellence awards

  • 2 Team Administrative awards

  • Courses of Excellence citations in the NHI Newsletter for courses 135027, 135056, 135046, 135047, and 135048.

Project Information

Client's Name

Federal Highway Administration, Central Federal Lands Highway Division


Various Locations, US

Primary Service

River Engineering + Water Resources


State + Federal + Tribal