Monday, September 20, 2010

Culverts 1: A case of the F***its

I'm planning a series on culvert whoopsies that I find along my journeys around the desert southwest. Culverts are a necessity for roads and other short crossings. It is also important that culverts be appropriately sized and placed within/on the substrate. Culverts can also have incredibly damaging consequences on the aquatic environment if improperly sized/placed. Even bad culverts in ephemeral streams can have downstream consequences (via excess sedimentation from erosion, for example). I come across a lot of bad (and some good) examples in my travels and am happy to share them for discussion.

This is a set of culverts on an small, ephemeral arroyo near Apache Springs, NM. Normally, these small (-ish) arroyos only run in response to heavy rain events and when they do flow, they often flow very big. They are characterized by either upland or no vegetation, and in this neck of the woods, are easily erodible.

The landowner, at some time in the past, installed the series of five culverts in an attempt to provide a crossing that would work during inclement weather. You can also see that the culverts have no road base or other roadway material on top of them. It's been eroded over time to the point of being non-functional. If you look to the right of the photo, you can sort of see the ad-hoc at-grade crossing that the landowner has used to bypass the failed culverts. When we drove by, I had my colleague stop and back up so he could see it, as well. We both laughed and said this landowner had a case of the "aww, f***its" with respect to the culvert. It's a pretty common sight, here in the low-income, rural southwest.


@cbdawson said...

Wow. When I first looked at the picture, I thought those were just stored off to the side, not actually "installed" or in use!

coconino said...

Pretty amazing, aren't they? That's why I had my colleague slam on the brakes and back up to take a look. We were shaking our heads in amusement.

Anne Jefferson said...

Like cbdawson, my first glance at the culverts led me to think they were stored for future use and you were just going to talk about under-sizing. Now I'm really looking forward to some more culvert stories from you!

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