Level II scour analysis for Bridge 13 (SHARTH00040013) on Town Highway 4, crossing Broad Brook, Sharon, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-593

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 SHARTH00040013 on Town Highway 4 crossing Broad Brook, Sharon, 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 central Vermont. The 16.6-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is brushland on the downstream left overbank and row crops on the right overbank, while the immediate banks have dense woody vegetation. Upstream of the bridge, the overbanks are forested.

In the study area, Broad Brook has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.02 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 69 ft and an average bank height of 5 ft. The channel bed material ranges from sand to boulder with a median grain size (D50) of 112 mm (0.369 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I site visit on April 11, 1995 and Level II site visit on July 23, 1996, indicated that the reach was stable.

The Town Highway 4 crossing of Broad Brook is a 34-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 31-foot concrete tee beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, March 23, 1995). The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 30.1 ft. 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 15 degrees.

A scour hole 2.0 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the upstream end of the right abutment. At the downstream end of the left abutment, a 1.0 foot scour hole was observed . Scour countermeasures at the site include type-2 stone fill (less than 3 feet diameter) at each road embankment. 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 ranged from 0.7 to 1.8 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Left abutment scour ranged from 5.6 to 9.4 ft. The worst case left abutment scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Right abutment scour ranged from 19.0 to 19.8 ft. The worst-case right abutment scour 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). 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 13 (SHARTH00040013) on Town Highway 4, crossing Broad Brook, Sharon, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 52 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Broad Brook