Level II scour analysis for Bridge 42 (HARDELMSTR0042) on Elm Street, crossing Cooper Brook, Hardwick, Vermont

Open-File Report 96-565

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 HARDELMSTR0042 on Elm Street crossing Cooper Brook, Hardwick, 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 north-central Vermont. The 16.6-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the overbanks are primarily grass covered with some brush along the immediate channel banks except the upstream right bank and overbank which is forested and the downstream left overbank which has a lumberyard.

In the study area, Cooper Brook has a sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.005 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 50 ft and an average channel depth of 6 ft. The predominant channel bed materials are sand and gravel with a median grain size (D50) of 1.25 mm (0.00409 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on July 24, 1995, indicated that the reach was stable.

The Elm Street crossing of Cooper Brook is a 39-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 37-foot concrete span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, March 17, 1995). 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 45 degrees.

On August 17, 1995 the site was revisited to investigate the effect of the August 4-5, 1995 flood on the structure. Channel features such as scour holes and point bars were shifted by the high flow event. Details of these changes can be found in the Level I data form in Appendix E. Additional details describing conditions at the site are included in the Level II Summary and Appendices D and G.

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 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 0.0 to 3.4 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the incipient-overtopping discharge which was less than the 100-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 7.1 to 10.4 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, 1993, p. 48). 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 42 (HARDELMSTR0042) on Elm Street, crossing Cooper Brook, Hardwick, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 55 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Cooper Brook