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LBYD Civil and Structural Engineers

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2013 Engineering Excellence Award

Samford University,
Shades Creek Enhancement
Birmingham, Alabama

The eroding bank of Shades Creek was threatening to cause significant property damage to Samford University’s athletic fields. Samford originally anticipated hard armor would be the only solution to stabilize the eroding bank. Initial cost estimates revealed that traditional hardarmor bank stabilization methods would have required Samford to purchase or otherwise generate mitigation credits for the necessary environmental impacts. LBYD developed an alternate design for a cost effective natural stream enhancement that resulted in an improved environment, improved aesthetics and created an outdoor classroom with case study opportunities as well as requiring little, if any, future maintenance. One of the most unique challenges of this project was the fact that over half of the enhanced stream length was inaccessible from either bank and required that all enhancements be constructed entirely from within the envelope of the stream. The size of the stream did not allow for temporary re-routing or other methods to allow a dry working environment. The installation of in-stream boulder vanes direct flow away from the stream banks and improves bed-load sediment transport. These boulder vanes, combined with scour pools and riparian vegetation provide improved habitat for fish and other aquatic animals.  The Shades Creek enhancement exceeded Samford’s expectations with regard to stabilizing the primary erosion issue. In addition to the benefits stated above, this project also provided public outreach and education opportunities and improved relationships with regulatory and advocacy groups all for a construction cost that was well below initial estimates.