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Stream Crossing Structures


Unregulated stream crossings, constructed with inadequate attention to engineering standards, in combination with the physical adjustments of stream channels over time, have been linked with significant public safety hazards, avoidable economic loss, and degradation of water quality during and following flood events (Options for State Flood Control Policies and a Flood Control Program; VT DEC, 1999, pdf, 1 MB).

Placement or construction of Stream Crossing Structures within or over streams requires authorization under the Stream Alteration General Permit, or an Individual Stream Alteration Permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation. Jurisdiction is promulgated under the 10 V.S.A. Chapter 41.

Stream Crossing Structures include any structure type; i.e., bridge, box, arch, culvert, truss or other type structure, intended to convey people, animals, vehicles or materials from one side of the stream or stream channel to another. This does not include private, non-commercial footbridges, pole mounted aerial electric or telecommunications lines; nor does it include below grade utility lines authorized by a Stream Alteration General Permit issued pursuant to 10 V.S.A. Chapter 41. Stream Crossing Structures do include other above grade utility lines such as individually supported aerial sewer or water supply pipelines (not suspended on or supported by an existing structure).

Applicability of this regulatory process to timber harvest related stream crossings is described by the Vermont Departments of Environmental Conservation and Forests, Parks & Recreation Timber Harvesting Stream Crossing Protocol (pdf, 52 KB).

Projects constructed by the VT Agency of Transportation, subject to 19 VSA, Section 10(12), are exempt from this regulatory requirement.

If the proposed stream crossing structure is located on a perennial stream and is subject to the jurisdiction of 10 V.S.A. Chapter 41, persons proposing stream crossing structures must comply with the crossing standards established for reporting activities in the Stream Alteration General Permit and the Standard River Management Practice for Stream Crossing (pdf, 13 KB) and also notify the River Management Engineer with information supportive of project design and review, including sketch plans and profiles providing the following technical information:

a. the size (length along the stream, span length, opening size, etc.) and type of structure including any structural treatments, stone fill, headwalls, etc.,

b. any proposed changes in the stream channel bed elevation,

c. existing and proposed channel dimensions

d. elevations of structural elements (headwalls, stringers, etc.) relative to streambed and top of bank

e. watershed size at the location of the crossing

f.  USGS location map

Sketch plans and profiles, except in special cases, may generally be provided based on tape and hand level accuracy field survey data. If not drawn to scale, all dimensions and elevations must be noted on the drawings. Information shall be submitted to the VT DEC River Management Engineer located at the appropriate VT Agency of Natural Resources district office.

It is recommended that the project manager contact the River Management Engineer and conduct a site inspection prior to preparing a General Permit Activity Reporting Form or an Individual Stream Alteration Permit and supporting information and plans so that project review can proceed more efficiently.

Direct any inquiries to the DEC  River Management Engineer at the appropriate DEC regional office.

Additional Resources

VT DEC Watershed Management Division 1 National Life Drive, Main 2  Montpelier, VT  05620-3522  Tele: 802-828-1535   Fax: 802-828-1544


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