Level II scour analysis for Bridge 12 (SUNDFLR0030012) on Forest Land Road 3, crossing Roaring Branch Brook, Sunderland, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-185

Prepared in cooperation with Vermont Agency of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration
and ORCID iD



This report provides the results of a detailed Level II analysis of scour potential at structure SUNDFLR0030012 on Forest Land Road (FLR) 3 (FAS 114) crossing Roaring Branch Brook, Sunderland, 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 southwestern Vermont. The 4.93-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is dense forest along the left bank and primarily shrubs and trees along the right bank, both upstream and downstream of the bridge.

In the study area, Roaring Branch Brook has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.01 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 33 ft and an average bank height of 4 ft. The channel bed material ranges from cobble to bedrock with a median grain size (D50) of 139 mm (0.457 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.

Forest Land Road 3 (FAS 114) crossing of Roaring Branch Brook is a 37-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 35-foot steel-beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, December 14, 1995). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 30 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is 15 degrees.

The scour protection measures at the site included type-3 stone fill (less than 48 inches diameter) along the left and right abutments, along the upstream left and downstream right wing walls and along the downstream right bank. Type-4 (less than 60 inches diameter) stone fill was found along the upstream right and downstream left wingwalls and along the downstream left bank. Type-2 (less than 36 inches diameter) stone fill scour protection was found along the upstream left and right banks. 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 was calculated to be 0.0 ft. Abutment scour ranged from 4.3 to 10.4 ft. The worst-case abutment scour occurred at the 500-year discharge along the right abutment. 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 12 (SUNDFLR0030012) on Forest Land Road 3, crossing Roaring Branch Brook, Sunderland, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 48 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Roaring Branch Brook