Level II scour analysis for Bridge 7 (MORRTH00020007) on Town Highway 2 (FAS 239), crossing Ryder Brook, Morristown, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-190

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 MORRTH00020007 on Town Highway 2 crossing Ryder Brook, Morristown, 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 North-central Vermont. The 18.5-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is pasture and forest. In the study area, Ryder Brook generally is straight and incised with a slope of approximately 0.002 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 48 ft and an average channel depth of 3 ft. The channel bed is bedrock with pockets of sand and gravel in several locations through the reach. The gravel has a median grain size (D50) of 17.7 mm (0.0581 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on July 16, 1996 indicated that the reach was stable. The Town Highway 2 crossing of Ryder Brook is a 84-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 84-foot steel-beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, January 31, 1996). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutment walls with spill-through embankments. The channel is skewed approximately 10 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is 15 degrees. The only scour protection measure at the site was type-3 stone fill (less than 48 inches diameter) on the spill-through embankments of each abutment. 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 predictions for all modelled flows at this site were zero. Abutment scour predictions ranged from 5.6 to 8.1 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. However, historical bridge records and field notes indicate the abutment footings may be set on bedrock. 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 7 (MORRTH00020007) on Town Highway 2 (FAS 239), crossing Ryder Brook, Morristown, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 47 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Ryder Brook