Level II scour analysis for Bridge 120 (LEICUS00070120) on U.S. Route 7, crossing the Leicester River, Leicester, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-3

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 LEICUS00070120 on U. S. Route 7 crossing the Leicester River, Leicester, 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 west-central Vermont. The 23.0-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover consists of shrubs, brush, and pasture with some trees except for the upstream left overbank area which is forest. In the study area, the Leicester River has a sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.002 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 52 ft and an average channel depth of 3 ft. The predominant channel bed material is sand and gravel with a median grain size (D50) of 3.10 mm (0.0102 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on September 18, 1995, indicated that the reach was laterally unstable. Lateral instability was evident with the presence of some bank material failure and fallen or leaning vegetation at cut-banks upstream and downstream of this site. Point bars also were found near this site. The U. S. Route 7 crossing of the Leicester Riveris a 108-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of two 52-foot steel-beam spans (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, March 13, 1995). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutment walls with stone fill spill-through embankments on each abutment and one pier. The channel is skewed approximately 30 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-toroadway 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 for all modelled flows ranged from 3.8 to 6.1 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 4.0 to 6.7 ft. The worst-case abutment scour also occurred at the 500-year discharge. Pier scour ranged from 9.1 to 10.2. The worst-case pier 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 120 (LEICUS00070120) on U.S. Route 7, crossing the Leicester River, Leicester, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 49 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Leicester River