Level II scour analysis for Bridge 43 (SPRICYBRIG0043) on Bridge Street, crossing the Black River, Springfield, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-227

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 SPRICYBRIG0043 on Bridge Street crossing the Black River, Springfield, 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 New England Upland section of the New England physiographic province in southeastern Vermont. The 191-mi2 drainage area is a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover consist of some grass, buildings, and pavement. The immediate banks are covered with trees, shrubs and brush.

In the study area, the Black River has an incised channel with a slope of approximately 0.001 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 156 ft and an average bank height of 14 ft. The channel bed material is predominantly cobbles with a median grain size (D50) of 90.7 mm (0.298 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on September 19, 1996, indicated that the reach was stable.

The Bridge Street crossing of the Black River is a 123-foot-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 119-foot steel-beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, March 30, 1995). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 20 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is 20 degrees.

The scour protection measures at the site were type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) along the downstream left bank and the downstream left wingwall. There was also type-1 stone fill (less than 12 inches diameter) along right abutment and the downstream right wingwall. There is a nine foot tall concrete wall along the downstream right bank to 89 feet downstream of the bridge. Additional details describing conditions at the site are included in the Level II Summary and Appendices D and E.

Scour depths and recommended 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.

There was no computed contraction scour. Left abutment scour ranged from 9.9 to 11 ft. The worst-case left abutment scour occurred at the 100-year discharge. Right abutment scour ranged from 6.5 to 11.2 ft. The worst-case right 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 43 (SPRICYBRIG0043) on Bridge Street, crossing the Black River, Springfield, 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:
Black River