Level II scour analysis for Bridge 4 (ARLITH00010004) on Town Highway 1, crossing Warm Brook, Arlington, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-182

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 ARLITH00010004 on Town Highway 1 crossing Warm Brook, Arlington, 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 Taconic section of the New England physiographic province in southwestern Vermont. The 12.1-mi2 drainage area consists of a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is brush except for the upstream and downstream right banks which are covered by brush and grass.

In the study area, Warm Brook has an incised, straight channel with a slope of approximately 0.003 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 19 ft and an average bank height of 1 ft. The channel bed material ranges from sand to cobble with a median grain size (D50) of 33.3 mm (0.109 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on July 30, 1996, indicated that the reach was stable.

The Town Highway 1 crossing of Warm Brook is a 49-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 44-foot steel-beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, January 30, 1996). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The abutments have been placed on top of the previous stone abutments. The channel is skewed approximately 0 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to- roadway is 20 degrees.

A scour hole approximately 1.0 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed mid- channel in the upstream reach within 30 ft of the bridge. The only scour protection measure at the site was type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) along the upstream left bank approach to the bridge. 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 1.7 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 8.3 to 11.9 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 4 (ARLITH00010004) on Town Highway 1, crossing Warm Brook, Arlington, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 51 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Warm Brook