Level II scour analysis for Bridge 11R (ROCKTH0001011R) on Town Highway 1 (VT 121 & FAS 125), crossing the Saxtons River, Rockingham, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-345

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 ROCKTH0001011R on Town Highway 1 crossing the Saxtons River, Rockingham, 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 68.3-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover consists of houses, short grass, and scattered trees except along the immediate river banks, which are tree covered.

In the study area, the Saxtons River has a sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.005 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 121 ft and an average bank height of 8 ft. The predominant channel bed materials are gravel and cobbles with a median grain size (D50) of 109 mm (0.359 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on September 3, 1996, indicated that the reach was laterally unstable. Lateral instability was evident with respect to a cut-bank on the left bank upstream with slip failure of bank material. Furthermore, there is a wide point bar along the right bank upstream opposite the cut-bank.

The Town Highway 1 crossing of the Saxtons River is a 184-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of three steel-beam spans (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, March 30, 1995). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete, skeletal-style abutment walls with spill-through embankments adjacent to each wall. The channel is skewed approximately 35 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is 30 degrees.

The only scour protection measure at the site was type-3 stone fill (less than 48 inches diameter) on the spill-through embankments. 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.

There was no computed contraction scour for all modelled flows at this site. Abutment scour ranged from 9.0 to 13.4 feet. The worst-case abutment scour occurred at the 500-year discharge for the left abutment. There are two piers for which computed pier scour ranged from 9.0 to 18.4 feet. The left and right piers in this report are presented as pier 1 and pier 2, respectively. The worst-case pier scour occurred at pier 2 for 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 11R (ROCKTH0001011R) on Town Highway 1 (VT 121 & FAS 125), crossing the Saxtons River, Rockingham, 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:
Saxtons River