Level II scour analysis for Bridge 25 (CRAFTH00220025) on Town Highway 22, crossing the Wild Branch Lamoille River, Craftsbury, Vermont

Open-File Report 96-312

Prepared in cooperation with Vermont Agency of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration



This report provides the results of a detailed Level II analysis of scour potential at structure CRAFTH00220025 on town highway 22 crossing the Wild Branch Lamoille River, Craftsbury, Vermont (figures 1–8). A Level II study is a basic engineering analysis of the site, including a quantitative analysis of stream stability and scour (U.S. Department of Transportation, 1993). A Level I study is included in Appendix E of this report. A Level I study provides a qualitative geomorphic characterization of the study site. Information on the bridge, gleaned from Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTAOT) files, was compiled prior to conducting Level I and Level II analyses and can be found in Appendix D.

The site is in the New England Upland physiographic province of north-central Vermont in the town of Bridgewater. The 9.52-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural basin with some pasture on the valley bottom. In the vicinity of the study site, the banks have less than 25% woody vegetation coverage.

In the study area, the Wild Branch Lamoille River has a meandering channel in a low relief valley setting with wide flood plains and a slope of approximately 0.0044 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 35 ft and an average channel depth of 4 ft. The predominant channel bed material is gravel (D50 is 38.6 mm or 0.127 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on November 9, 1994, indicated that the reach was laterally unstable.

The town highway 22 crossing of the Wild Branch Lamoille Riveris a 31-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 29-foot span concrete slab superstructure (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written commun., August 4, 1994). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 20 degrees to the opening and the opening-skew-to-roadway is 20 degrees.

A scour hole 1.5 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the left bank side of the channel upstream during the Level I assessment. There are tall, steep stone fill embankments (artificial levees) that make up both banks between 50 feet upstream and the upstream face of the bridge, which straighten and constrict the channel. Type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) is reported on the banks upstream, the upstream wingwalls, the abutments, the downstream left wingwall, and the downstream left bank. Additional details describing conditions at the site are included in the Level II Summary and Appendices D and E.

Scour depths and rock rip-rap sizes were computed using the general guidelines described in Hydraulic Engineering Circular 18 (Richardson and others, 1995). Total scour at a highway crossing is comprised of three components: 1) long-term streambed degradation; 2) contraction scour (due to accelerated flow caused by a reduction in flow area at a bridge) and; 3) local scour (caused by accelerated flow around piers and abutments). Total scour is the sum of the three components. Equations are available to compute depths for contraction and local scour and a summary of the results of these computations follows.

Contraction scour for all modelled flows ranged from 0.0 to 2.5 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the incipient overtopping discharge, which was less than the 100-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 4.7 to 8.6 ft. The worst-case abutment scour also occurred at the incipient overtopping discharge. Additional information on scour depths and depths to armoring are included in the section titled “Scour Results”. Scoured-streambed elevations, based on the calculated scour depths, are presented in tables 1 and 2. A cross-section of the scour computed at the bridge is presented in figure 8. Scour depths were calculated assuming an infinite depth of erosive material and a homogeneous particle-size distribution.

It is generally accepted that the Froehlich equation (abutment scour) gives “excessively conservative estimates of scour depths” (Richardson and others, 1995, p. 47). Many factors, including historical performance during flood events, the geomorphic assessment, scour protection, and the results of the hydraulic analyses, must be considered to properly assess the validity of abutment scour results. Therefore, scour depths adopted by VTAOT may differ from the computed values documented herein, based on the consideration of additional contributing factors and experienced engineering judgement.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Level II scour analysis for Bridge 25 (CRAFTH00220025) on Town Highway 22, crossing the Wild Branch Lamoille River, Craftsbury, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 50 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Wild Branch Lamoille River