Level II scour analysis for Bridge 7 (CHARTH00010007) on Town Highway 1, crossing Mad Brook, Charleston, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-213

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 CHARTH00010007 on town highway 1 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 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 White Mountain section of the New England physiographic province in north-central Vermont in the town of Charleston. The 6.59-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is pasture except for the upstream left bank, which is forest. The stream banks are tree covered upstream and on the downstream left bank side. In the study area, Mad Brook has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.01 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 41 ft and an average channel depth of 5 ft. The predominant channel bed materials range from gravel to boulders with a median grain size (D50) of 105 mm (0.344 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on October 28, 1994, indicated that the reach was stable. The town highway 1 crossing of Mad Brook is a 27-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 25-foot concrete T-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 10 degrees to the opening. The opening-skew-to-roadway computed from surveyed data is 5 degrees, but historical bridge records indicate this angle is closer to 10 degrees. There was scour evident during the Level I assessment due to the presence of two subfootings at the base of each abutment wall. Although the subfootings may have been constructed at the same time as the abutment walls, the subfootings may have been constructed at a later time in response to streambed degradation under the bridge. The right abutment was noted as undermined during the Level I assessment. Scour protection measures at the site were type-1 stone fill (less than 12 inches diameter) on the upstream right and downstream road embankments and type-2 stone fill on each wingwall and the downstream left bank. 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 0.3 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the incipient overtopping discharge, which was less than the 100-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 6.2 to 9.4 ft. The worst-case abutment scour for the right abutment was 9.4 feet at the 100-year discharge. The worst-case abutment scour for the left abutment was 8.6 feet at the incipient overtopping 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 7 (CHARTH00010007) on Town Highway 1, crossing Mad Brook, Charleston, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 50 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Mad Brook