Level II scour analysis for Bridge 45b (BRIDTH00040045b) on Town Highway 4, crossing an unnamed Dailey Hollow Branch Tributary, Bridgewater, Vermont

Open-File Report 96-568

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 BRIDTH0004045B on town highway 4 crossing an unnamed Dailey Hollow Branch Tributary, 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, 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 Green Mountain section of the New England physiographic province in central Vermont. The 2.47-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. Surface cover in the vicinity of the study site is variable. A gravel road is adjacent to the left bank with the immediate upstream left bank covered by grass and the immediate downstream left bank covered by shrubs and brush. The upstream right bank is densely forested; the downstream right overbank is covered by grass with trees and brush on the immediate channel bank.

In the study area, this unnamed Dailey Hollow Branch Tributary has an incised channel with a slope of approximately 0.04 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 29 ft and an average channel depth of 4 ft. The predominant channel bed material is gravel with a median grain size (D50) of 47.0 mm (0.154 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on November 15, 1994, indicated that the reach was stable.

The town highway 4 crossing of the unnamed Dailey Hollow Branch Tributary is a 62-ft-long, corrugated steel multi-plate arch structure. It is supported by concrete footings leaving natural stream bed exposed (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, January, 1996). The road embankments are protected by stone fill, however, the size is unknown due to sand and grass covering the fill except for the upstream left embankment which has type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter). The downstream left bank is protected by type-3 stone fill (less than 48 inches diameter) extending 25 feet downstream of the culvert. The channel approach to the culvert has a mild s-curve bend with the opening skewed ten degrees to flow. 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 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 1.1 to 1.8 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 7.7 to 11.7 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 45b (BRIDTH00040045b) on Town Highway 4, crossing an unnamed Dailey Hollow Branch Tributary, Bridgewater, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 47 p.
United States