Level II scour analysis for Bridge 29 (CRAFTH00550029) on Town Highway 55, crossing the Black River, Craftsbury, Vermont

Open-File Report 96-386
Prepared in cooperation with Vermont Agency of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration
By:  and 



This report provides the results of a detailed Level II analysis of scour potential at structure CRAFTH00550029 on town highway 55 crossing the Black River, Craftsbury, 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 of north-central Vermont in the town of Craftsbury. The 24.7-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 upstream left bank and the downstream right bank, which have more brush cover than trees.

In the study area, the Black River has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.01 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 41 ft and an average channel depth of 5.5 ft. The predominant channel bed material is sand and gravel (D50 is 44.7 mm or 0.147 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on June 7, 1995, indicated that the reach was stable.

The town highway 55 crossing of the Black Riveris a 32-ft-long, one-lane bridge consisting of one 28-foot span steel stringer superstructure with a timber deck (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, August 4, 1994). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 40 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is 10 degrees.

A scour hole 2 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was evident at mid-channel immediately downstream of the bridge during the Level I assessment. The only scour protection measure at the site was type-1 stone fill (less than 12 inches diameter) on the upstream right bank and road approach embankment. 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 all modelled flows ranged from 0.9 to 1.4 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 100-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 12.1 to 15.5 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). 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 Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Level II scour analysis for Bridge 29 (CRAFTH00550029) on Town Highway 55, crossing the Black River, Craftsbury, Vermont
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 96-386
DOI 10.3133/ofr96386
Year Published 1996
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Pembroke, NH
Description iv, 47 p.
Country United States
State Vermont
City Craftsbury
Other Geospatial Black River
Scale 24000
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