Level II scour analysis for Bridge 46 (CHESVT00110046) on Vermont State Route 11, crossing the Middle Branch Williams River, Chester, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-365

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 CHESVT00110046 on State Route 11 crossing the Middle Branch 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 Green Mountain and New England Upland sections of the New England physiographic province in southeastern Vermont. The 28.0-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is forested on the upstream left and downstream right overbanks. The upstream right and downstream left overbanks are pasture while the immediate banks have dense woody vegetation.

In the study area, the the Middle Branch Williams River has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.013 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 81 ft and an average bank height of 11 ft. The channel bed material ranges from gravel to bedrock with a median grain size (D50) of 70.7 mm (0.232 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on September 12, 1996, indicated that the reach was stable.

The State Route 11 crossing of the Middle Branch Williams River is a 118-ft-long, two-lane steel stringer type bridge consisting of a 114-foot steel plate deck (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, March 29, 1995). The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 109 ft.The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 45 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is 50 degrees.

A scour hole 2 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed 128 feet downstream during the Level I assessment. Type-1 (less than 1 foot) stone fill protects the downstream right wingwall. Type-2 (less than 3 ft diameter) stone fill protects the upstream right wingwall, the left and right abutments, the upstream left and right road embankments. 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 for any modelled flows. Abutment scour ranged from 7.0 to 10.3 ft. The worst-case 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 46 (CHESVT00110046) on Vermont State Route 11, crossing the Middle Branch Williams River, Chester, 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:
Middle Branch Williams River