Level II scour analysis for Bridge 29 (PUTNTH00210029) on Town Highway 21, crossing East Putney Brook, Putney, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-406

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 PUTNTH00210029 on Town Highway 21 crossing East Putney Brook, Putney, 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 10.3-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover consists of pasture and forest. In the study area, East Putney Brook has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.009 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 33 ft and an average bank height (channel depth) of 3 ft. The channel bed material is cobbles predominantly with a median grain size (D50) of 80.7 mm (0.265 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on August 19, 1996, indicated that the reach was stable. The Town Highway 21 crossing of East Putney Brook is a 35-ft-long, one-lane bridge consisting of one 29-foot steel-beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, March 30, 1995). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 40 degrees to the opening. Historical records show an opening-skew-to-roadway of 10 degrees but 20 degrees was computed using field survey data and used in this study. The scour protection measures at the site were type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) on each abutment wall, the upstream right wingwall and the upstream right bank, and type-3 stone fill (less than 48 inches diameter) on the left bank upstream, the upstream left wingwall, and the downstream right bank. 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 0.9 feet. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the incipient-overtopping discharge, which was less than the 100-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 6.1 to 18.4 feet. The worst-case abutment scour occurred at the 500-year discharge for the right abutment and the incipient overtopping discharge for the left abutment. 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 crosssection 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 29 (PUTNTH00210029) on Town Highway 21, crossing East Putney Brook, Putney, 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:
Putney Brook