Using HEC-RAS to Model Bridges, Culverts, and Floodplains

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Course Overview

In this course, you will:

  • Update and improve your proficiency in flood analysis.
  • Learn how to evaluate and use different HEC-RAS program options.
  • Understand assumptions and applications for bridge modeling methods.
  • Learn how to use program solutions for mixed flow, multiple culverts, and bridge openings.
  • Benefit from hands-on applications throughout the course.

No prior experience with HEC-RAS is required.

Who Should Attend?

This course will benefit engineers or other professionals who have experience with hydraulic studies and investigations.

Additional Information

The class includes lectures and hands-on computer workshops that will give you a solid understanding of the theory behind the model as well as a practical ability to work the model effectively. We will use the current version of HEC-RAS.  In addition to the program itself, you’ll receive valuable resources and references.    

For either the on-line or in-person course, you will need a windows laptop that has:

  • A high-speed internet connection
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader to be able to open and read PDFs
  • Microsoft Excel

If you are registering for the in-person course and do not have a laptop that meets these requirements, email Ben Jordan and we can loan you one for a $100 fee for the three days of the in-person course.

Click here to get information on all of our HEC-RAS related courses.

Course Outline

Online Course Schedule

Week 1 – Course Overview and River Modeling Basic Concepts

Week 2 – Flow Data and HEC-RAS Modeling

Weeks 3 – Bridge Modeling Using HEC-RAS

Week 4 – Culvert Modeling Using HEC-RAS

Week 5 – RAS Mapper

Week 62D Basic Concepts and Tools in HEC-RAS

Week 7 – Output Review and Analysis, course wrap-up


In-person Course Schedule


Day 1

Calculating Water Surface Profiles

  • Concepts of open channel flow and floodplain hydraulics
  • Energy principles
  • Flow resistance equations
  • Momentum concepts

HEC-RAS Modeling - Geometry

  • Geometric and flow data
  • Program options
  • Sources of data

Developing a Geometry Model with HEC-RAS: Workshop

  • Starting HEC-RAS
  • Steps in developing a hydraulic model
  • Starting a new project
  • Entering geometric data
  • Entering steady flow data
  • Performing the hydraulic computations
  • Viewing and printing results
  • Getting and using help

HEC-RAS Modeling: Flow Data, Compute Profiles, and View Results

  • Define steady-flow data and boundary conditions
  • Perform hydraulic computations
  • View graphics and tables

Calculation of Water Surface Profiles: Workshop

  • How to enter data into HEC-RAS
  • How to perform the hydraulic computations
  • Viewing results

Review Workshop

  • Viewing results
  • Cross-section plots
  • Profile plot
  • X-Y-Z plot
  • Summary tables
  • Errors, warnings, and notes
  • Output review for workshop

Geometry Options

  • Multiple plan analysis
  • Optional friction loss equations
  • Cross-section interpolation
  • Mixed flow regime calculations
  • Modeling stream junctions
  • Flow distribution calculations

Bridge Modeling with HEC-RAS

  • Nature of flow through bridges
  • Components of bridge losses
  • Cross-section locations
  • Defining ineffective flow areas
  • Contraction and expansion losses

HEC-RAS Bridge Input-Output

  • Entering and editing bridge data
  • Defining a bridge modeling approach
  • Bridge modeling options
  • Example bridge application
  • Pertinent bridge output


Day 2

Bridge Modeling Workshop 

  • Entering and editing bridge data
  • Performing bridge hydraulic computations
  • Reviewing pertinent results

Bridge Workshop Review

Overview of Culvert Hydraulics

  • Definition of terms
  • Input requirements
  • Cross-section locations
  • Ineffective flow areas
  • Expansion and contraction coefficients
  • Inlet control
  • Outlet control
  • Solution logic

Culvert Modeling with HEC-RAS

  • Cross-section locations
  • Multiple culvert options
  • Program output

Culvert Modeling Workshop

  • Entering and editing culvert data
  • Culvert modeling options
  • Example culvert applications


Day 3

RAS Mapper 

  • RAS Mapper Overview
  • Setting the projection file
  • Adding a terrain model
  • Preprocessing 1D elements
  • Viewing results in RAS Mapper 

2-D Basics in HEC-RAS 

  • Principles of quasi-steady flow modeling
  • Adding a 2D area
  • Manning's "n" values for 2D areas
  • Entering flow data for 2D areas
  • Running a 2D model and reviewing results

RAS Mapper and 2D Workshop

  • Set the projection file and create terrain
  • Create a 2D area
  • Run the 2D model and review results 

Output Review and Analysis

  • How to interpret HEC-RAS output messages (errors, warnings, and notes)
  • Diagnosing common data input mistakes
  • Using the HEC-RAS "log file" to understand more about the computations and possible problems

HEC-RAS Output Analysis Workshop

  • Analyze HEC-RAS output
  • Resolve data model errors


Christopher Goodell

Benjamin Jordan

Program Director at the University of WisconsinMadison, Department of Engineering Professional Development, Ben develops continuing education courses for civil engineers and public works professionals. He is also director of the Wisconsin Transportation Information Center, providing training and technical assistance to county highway departments, town road departments and city and village public works departments in Wisconsin. Mr. Jordan has over 35 years of experience in civil engineering and public works. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign and is a Licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Illinois.

Upcoming dates (1)

Sep. 27-29, 2021

Madison, WI
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Program Director

Benjamin Jordan

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