Level II scour analysis for Bridge 6 (BRISVT01160006) on State Highway 116, crossing Little Notch Brook, Bristol, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-4

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 BRISVT01160006 on State Route 116 crossing the Little Notch Brook, Bristol, 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 of West-central Vermont in the town of Bristol. The 8.59-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is dense forest except for the downstream left side, which is row crops. In the study area, Little Notch Brook has a sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.005 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 32 ft and an average channel depth of 4 ft. The predominant channel bed material is sand and gravel with a median grain size (D50 ) of 17.4 mm (0.0570 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on June 13, 1996, indicated that the reach was laterally unstable. The sinuous configuration of the channel with fine bed and bank material, a sharp channel bend upstream, and point bars and cut-banks upstream and downstream of this site are among the primary characteristics, which suggest lateral instability. In addition, there is evidence of streambed degradation at this site. A large eddy was noted at the location where Little Notch Brook enters the New Haven River about 100 feet downstream. There was a large scour hole noted at the location of the eddy, which is likely to remove streambed material at least as quickly as supplied from upstream on Little Notch Brook. Hence, channel degradation may be significant during a flood event. The state route 116 crossing of Little Notch Brook is a 24-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 21-foot concrete span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, December 14, 1995). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 15 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is 25 degrees. There was one foot of scour evident along the downstream half of the left abutment footing and some separation of the left abutment wall from the deck above due to settling. The left abutment footing was undermined up to a foot at the downstream end. The scour protection measures at the site were type-1 stone fill (less than 12 inches diameter) on the upstream left bank and type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) on the right banks and right wingwalls upstream and downstream of the structure. 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 3.2 to 4.3 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 6.0 to 10.0 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 6 (BRISVT01160006) on State Highway 116, crossing Little Notch Brook, Bristol, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 53 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Little Notch Brook