Level II scour analysis for Bridge 49 (BETHTH00790049) on Town Highway 79, crossing Locust Creek, Bethel, Vermont

Open-File Report 96-303

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 BETHTH00790049 on town highway 79 crossing Locust Creek, Bethel, 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 available from 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 Bethel. The 24.4-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the banks are forested.

In the study area, Locust Creek has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.015 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 74 ft and an average channel depth of 6 ft. The predominant channel bed material is gravel and cobble (D50 is 124 mm or 0.407 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on September 21 & 26, 1994, respectively, with a check on 12/15/94, indicated that the reach was stable.

The town Highway 79 crossing of Locust Creek is a 55-ft-long, one-lane bridge consisting of one 50-foot concrete span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written commun., August 24, 1994). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 50 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-toroadway is 45 degrees. Scour protection measures in place at the site were type-1 stone fill (less than 12 inches diameter) at the upstream right and downstream left road embankment, type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) at the upstream left bank, upstream wingwalls, and 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, 1993). Total scour at a highway crossing is comprised of three components: 1) long-term 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 these computed results follow.

Contraction scour for all modelled flows ranged from 0.0 ft to 1.0 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 100-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 10.3 ft to 13.3 ft. with the worst-case abutment scour also occurring 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 computed scour 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, 1993, p. 22). 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 49 (BETHTH00790049) on Town Highway 79, crossing Locust Creek, Bethel, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 30 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Locust Creek