Level II scour analysis for Bridge 125 (MIDBUS00070125) on U.S. Route 7 crossing the Middlebury River, Middlebury, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-103

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 MIDBUS00070125 on U.S. Route 7 crossing the Middlebury River, Middlebury, 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 west-central Vermont. The 46.8-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover consists of row crops on the right overbank upstream and downstream, and trees on the left overbank. In the study area, the Middlebury River has a straight channel with a slope of approximately 0.005 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 77 ft and an average channel depth of 4 ft. The predominant channel bed materials are sand and cobbles with a median grain size (D50) of 59.4 mm (0.195 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on June 18, 1996, indicated that the reach was stable. The U.S. Route 7 crossing of the Middlebury River is a 202-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 91-foot, and two 55-foot steel-beam spans (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, December 14, 1995). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutment walls with spill-through embankments. The channel is skewed approximately 45 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is 45 degrees. The scour protection measures at the site were type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) on the spill-through embankments of each abutment and type-1 stone fill (less than 12 inches diameter) on the right bank upstream. 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 0.0 to 1.2 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 7.5 to 11.0 ft. The worst-case abutment scour occurred at the 500-year discharge at the left abutment. Pier scour ranged from 8.3 to 15.9 ft. for each modeled discharge. The worst-case pier scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. In this report, piers are numerically designated “1” and “2” for the left and right piers respectively. 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 125 (MIDBUS00070125) on U.S. Route 7 crossing the Middlebury River, Middlebury, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 49 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Middlebury River