Level II scour analysis for Bridge 26 (PUTNTH00010026) on Town Highway 1, crossing Sacketts Brook, Putney, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-183

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 PUTNTH00010026 on Town Highway 1 crossing Sacketts Brook, Putney, 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). Results of a Level I scour investigation also are included in Appendix E of this report. A Level I investigation 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 is found in Appendix D.

The site is in the New England Upland section of the New England physiographic province in southern Vermont. The 10.1-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is pasture upstream and downstream of the bridge while the immediate banks have dense woody vegetation.

In the study area, Sacketts Brook has an incised, straight channel with a slope of approximately 0.01 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 35 ft and an average bank height of 5 ft. The channel bed material is predominantly cobble with a median grain size (D50) of 68.3 mm (0.224 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on August 20, 1996, indicated that the reach was stable.

The Town Highway 1 crossing of Sacketts Brook is a 49-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 46-foot concrete T-beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, March 30, 1995). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments. The channel is skewed approximately 35 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to- roadway is 45 degrees.

The scour protection measure at the site was type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) at the upstream end of the left abutment and along the entire base length of the right abutment. There was also a vertical stone wall along the upstream 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 modelled flows ranged from 0.0 to 2.7 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Left abutment scour ranged from 7.9 to 9.9 ft. with the worst-case occurring at the 100-year discharge. Right abutment scour ranged from 12.6 to 17.0 ft. with the worst-case occurring at the 500-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 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). 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 26 (PUTNTH00010026) on Town Highway 1, crossing Sacketts Brook, Putney, 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:
Sacketts Brook