Level II scour analysis for Bridge 63 (CHESTH00090063) on Town Highway 9, crossing the Williams River, Chester, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-423

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 CHESTH00090063 on Town Highway 9 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 24.0-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is grass with trees and brush along the immediate banks. In the study area, the the Williams River has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.005 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 64 ft and an average bank height of 6 ft. The channel bed material ranges from gravel to boulder with a median grain size (D50) of 57.7 mm (0.189 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 stable. The Town Highway 9 crossing of the Williams River is a 45-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 35-foot steel-beam span with a timber deck (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, April 6, 1995). The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 5 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is 0 degrees. A scour hole 1.8 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the left abutment during the Level I assessment. The scour hole undermines the left abutment and extends from 50 ft upstream of the upstream bridge face to 50 ft downstream of the downstream bridge face. The scour protection measures at the site included type-3 stone fill (less than 48 inches diameter) under the bridge along the entire base length of the right abutment and along the right bank from 50 to 88 ft upstream. Type-2 (less than 36 inches diameter) stone fill scour protection was observed along the downstream left bank from 18 ft to 115 ft, along the downstream right bank from 8 ft to 25 ft and along the upstream left bank from 50 to 75 ft. 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 was computed to be 0.0 ft. Abutment scour ranged from 10.1 ft to 11.0 ft along the left abutment and from 14.1 ft to 15.1 ft along the right abutment. The worst-case abutment scour for the left abutment occurred at the 500-year discharge while the worst-case abutment scour for the right abutment occurred at the 100- 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 63 (CHESTH00090063) on Town Highway 9, crossing the Williams River, Chester, 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:
Williams River