Level II scour analysis for Bridge 26 (WSTOTH00070026) on Town Highway 7, crossing Greendale Brook, Weston, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-576

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 WSTOTH00070026 on Town Highway 7 crossing Greendale Brook, Weston, 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 Green Mountain section of the New England physiographic province in south central Vermont. The 3.13-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is forest.

In the study area, the Greendale Brook has a sinuous, non-incised, non-alluvial channel with a slope of approximately 0.015 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 38 ft and an average bank height of 3 ft. The channel bed material ranges from sand to boulder with a median grain size (D50) of 64.8 mm (0.213 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on August 19, 1996, indicated that the reach was laterally unstable. The channel has moved to the right, however, scour countermeasures are in place along the upstream right bank.

The Town Highway 7 crossing of the Greendale Brook is a 52-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 50-foot steel-beam span with a concrete deck (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, April 07, 1995). The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 48.6 ft. The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 50 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is 30 degrees.

A scour hole 1.5 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the upstream right wingwall and right abutment during the Level I assessment. Scour protection measures at the site include: type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) at the upstream end of the upstream left wingwall, along the left bank upstream, at the downstream end of the downstream left wing wall, and along the entire length of the downstream right wing wall; type 4 (less than 60 inches) and type-3 stone fill (less than 48 inches) along the right bank upstream. Additional details describing conditions at the site are included in the Level II Summary and Appendices D and E.

Scour depths and recommended 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 was 0.0 ft. Abutment scour ranged from 3.9 to 9.9 ft. The worst-case abutment scour occurred 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). The Hire equation (abutment scour) is often used when the horizontal length blocked by flow divided by the depth of flow is greater than 25 (Richardson and others, 1995 p. 49). Although the Hire equation could be applied to the left abutment more conservative scour estimates were given by the Froehlich equation on the left abutment. 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 (WSTOTH00070026) on Town Highway 7, crossing Greendale Brook, Weston, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 48 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Greendale Brook