Level II scour analysis for Bridge 49 (BENNCYHUNT0049) on Hunt Street, crossing the Walloomsac River, Bennington, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-367

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 BENNCYHUNT0049 on the Hunt Street crossing of the Walloomsac River, Bennington, 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 southwestern Vermont. The 34.1-mi2 drainage area is a predominantly rural and forested basin. The bridge site is located within an urban setting in the Town of Bennington with buildings and parking lots on overbanks except for the downstream left bank which is covered by trees and brush.

In the study area, the Walloomsac River has a straight, incised channel. The confluence of the Walloomsac River and Roaring Branch is 140 feet downstream. The channel has a slope of approximately 0.01 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 54 ft and an average bank height of 6 ft. The predominant channel bed material is cobble with a median grain size (D50) of 76.8 mm (0.252 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on July 31, 1996, indicated that the reach was stable.

The Hunt Street crossing of the Walloomsac River is a 51-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 49-foot steel span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, December 13, 1995). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments. The right abutment has a spill-through slope along its face. The channel is skewed approximately 25 degrees to the opening and the opening-skew-to-roadway is 20 degrees.

Scour countermeasures at the site include type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) on the spill through slope on the right abutment and along the base of the left abutment. Type- 2 stone fill also protects the channel banks upstream and downstream of the bridge for a minimum distance of 17 feet from the respective bridge faces. 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 computed for all modelled flows ranged from 0.9 to 5.0 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Computed left abutment scour ranged from 15.3 to 16.5 ft. with the worst-case scour occurring at the incipient roadway-overtopping discharge. Computed right abutment scour ranged from 6.0 to 8.7 ft. with the worst-case scour occurring 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 49 (BENNCYHUNT0049) on Hunt Street, crossing the Walloomsac River, Bennington, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 50 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Walloomsac River