Level II scour analysis for Bridge 19 (CHARTH00390019) on Town Highway 39, crossing Mad Brook, Charleston, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-212

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 CHARTH00390019 on Town Highway 39 crossing Mad Brook, Charleston, 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 investigation also are included in this report in Appendix E. A Level I study 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 White Mountain section of the New England physiographic province in northeastern Vermont in the town of Charleston. The 6.54-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is forest except for the upstream left side which is covered primarily with shrubs and brush. The immediate banks have dense woody vegetation. In the study area, Mad Brook has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.023 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 40 ft and an average channel depth of 4 ft. The predominant channel bed material is cobble with a median grain size (D50) of 135.0 mm (0.443 ft). The geomorphic assessment on October 26, 1994 indicated that the reach was laterally unstable due to long-term lateral migration of the channel. Data collection for the level II analysis was accomplished on October 26, 1994 and July 24, 1995. The Town Highway 39 crossing of Mad Brook is a 34-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 31-foot steel-beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, August 4, 1994). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 40 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is 45 degrees. A scour hole 1.5 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the right abutment during the Level I assessment. The scour protection measures evident at the site were type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) on the upstream left wingwall and upstream end of the left abutment wall. Type-3 stone fill (less than 48 inches diameter) was noted on the upstream right wingwall and the upstream side of the left road approach embankment. 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 0.0 ft. Abutment scour ranged from 9.5 to 16.7 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. 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 19 (CHARTH00390019) on Town Highway 39, crossing Mad Brook, Charleston, 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:
Mad Brook