Level II scour analysis for Bridge 12 (CHESVT01030012) on State Highway 103, crossing the Williams River, Chester, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-364

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 CHESVT01030012 on State Route 103 crossing the Williams River, Chester, 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 eastern Vermont. The 23.9-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is pasture on the downstream right and upstream left overbank areas and short grass on the downstream left and upstream right overbank areas. The surface cover along the upstream and downstream immediate banks consists of trees and brush.

In the study area, the the Williams River has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.0054 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 75 ft and an average bank height of 4 ft. The predominant channel bed material is gravel with a median grain size (D50) of 52.4 mm (0.172 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on September 18, 1996, indicated that the reach was laterally unstable.

The State Route 103 crossing of the Williams River is a 99-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of three concrete T-beam spans (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, March 29, 1995). The bridge is supported by two piers and vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls and spill-through slopes. The channel is skewed approximately 20 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is 0 degrees. Downstream of the bridge are the remains of a dam which is acting as a drop structure.

A scour hole, approximately 3 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth, was observed along the upstream left bank extending from 78 ft upstream of the upstream bridge face to 25 ft downstream of the downstream bridge face during the Level I assessment. Lateral migration of the channel has resulted in flow being directed at an angle to the piers, which has resulted in increased local scour at the bridge. The scour protection measures at the site included type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) under the bridge along the entire base length of the left and right spill-through slopes and extending up to the abutments. Type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) scour protection was also found along the upstream left bank from the bridge to 46 ft upstream and along the downstream right bank from the bridge to 70 ft downstream. Rock walls were found along the left bank from 88 ft to 200 ft downstream and along the right bank from 124 ft to 224 ft downstream. There are two wood pile drop structures located at 47 ft and 61 ft 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.

Contraction scour for all modelled flows ranged from 0.0 to 0.2 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 4.0 to 12.4 ft along the right spill-through abutment and from 8.4 to 10.7 ft along the left spill- through abutment. The worst-case abutment scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Pier scour ranged from 7.1 to 8.9 ft along Pier 1 ( northerly pier) and from 13.5 to 17.1 ft along Pier 2 (southerly pier). 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 12 (CHESVT01030012) on State Highway 103, crossing the Williams River, Chester, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 56 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Williams River