Level II scour analysis for Bridge 38 (RANDTH00640038) on Town Highway 64, crossing the Second Branch of the White River, Randolph, Vermont

Open-File Report 96-587

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 RANDTH00640038 on town highway 64 crossing the Second Branch of the White River, Randolph, 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 of central Vermont. The 46.5-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the The upstream left bank is forested, the upstream right bank is covered primarily by brush, the surface cover is pasture on the downstream left and row crops on the downstream right. In the study area, the Second Branch of the White River has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.0015 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 71 ft and an average channel depth of 8 ft. The predominant channel bed material is gravel with a median grain size (D50) of 32.0 mm (0.105 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I site visits on August 10, 1994 and December 5, 1994 indicated that the reach was laterally unstable. The town highway 64 crossing of the Second Branch of the White Riveris a 43-ft-long, one-lane covered bridge consisting of one 35-foot steel-beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, August 1, 1994). The bridge is supported by vertical, stone abutments with upstream wingwalls. The channel bends sharply at it’s approach to the bridge, however, at the bridge face, the channel is skewed approximately 0 degrees to the opening. The opening-skew-to-roadway is also 0 degrees. A scour hole 2 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed upstream of the bridge along the outside of the channel bend. Other scour problems at this site included undermining of the right abutment at it’s upstream and downstream ends. 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 1.7 to 2.6 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 7.2 to 24.2 ft. 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, 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:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Level II scour analysis for Bridge 38 (RANDTH00640038) on Town Highway 64, crossing the Second Branch of the White River, Randolph, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
iv, 51 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
White River