Level II scour analysis for Bridge 49 (BRIDTH00530049) on Town Highway 53, crossing North Branch Ottauquechee River, Bridgewater, Vermont

Open-File Report 96-407

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 BRIDTH00530049 on town highway 53 crossing the North Branch of the Ottauquechee River, Bridgewater, 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 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 Bridgewater. The 26.6-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the immediate banks have woody vegetation coverage with grass on the overbanks.

In the study area, the North Branch Ottauquechee River has a sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.0075 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 66 ft and an average channel depth of 6 ft. The predominant channel bed material is cobble and gravel (D50 is 68.4 mm or 0.224 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on October 27, 1994, indicated that the reach was stable.

The town highway 53 crossing of the North Branch of the Ottauquechee Riveris a 51-ftlong, one-lane bridge consisting of one 49-foot steel-beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, August 25, 1994). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is not skewed to the opening and the opening-skew-to-roadway is zero degrees.

The scour protection measures in place at the site are type-1 stone fill (less than 12 inches diameter) along the upstream left wingwall and type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) along the upstream right 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 aggradation or degradation; 2) contraction scour (due to reduction in flow area caused by 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 scour depths for contraction and local scour and a summary of the results follows.

Contraction scour for all modelled flows was 0 feet. Abutment scour ranged from 2.3 to 12.0 feet and the worst-case abutment scour also 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, 1993, 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 49 (BRIDTH00530049) on Town Highway 53, crossing North Branch Ottauquechee River, Bridgewater, 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:
North Branch Ottauquechee River