Level II scour analysis for Bridge 15 (GRNVTH00230015) on Town Highway 23, crossing the Third Branch of the White River, Granville, Vermont

Open-File Report 96-564

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 GRNVTH00230015 on town highway 23 crossing the Third Branch of the White River, Granville, 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 Green Mountain physiographic province of central Vermont in the town of Granville. The 23.6-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the banks have woody vegetation coverage except for the downstream banks, which are residential. In the study area, the Third Branch of the White River has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.0128 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 42 ft and an average channel depth of 4 ft. The predominant channel bed material is cobble (D50 is 108 mm or 0.353 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on October 21, 1994, indicated that the reach was laterally unstable. The town highway 23 crossing of the Third Branch of the White River is a 35-ft-long, one-lane bridge consisting of one 31-foot steel beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, August 26, 1994). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 10 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is 10 degrees.

The only scour protection measures in place at the site were type-1 stone fill (less than 12 inches diameter) along the upstream right bank, upstream right wingwall, and right abutment. Retaining walls are in place along the upstream left bank up to the upstream end of the upstream left wingwall and both downstream banks with the left bank wall extending from the downstream left wingwall. 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 scour 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 to 0.4 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the incipient overtopping discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 9.8 to 13.9 ft. The worst-case abutment scour occurred at the 100-year 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 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). Usually, computed scour depths are evaluated in combination with other information including (but not limited to) historical performance during flood events, the geomorphic stability assessment, existing scour protection measures, and the results of the hydraulic analyses. Therefore, scour depths adopted by VTAOT may differ from the computed values documented herein.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Level II scour analysis for Bridge 15 (GRNVTH00230015) on Town Highway 23, crossing the Third Branch of the White River, Granville, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
iv, 50 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
White River