Level II scour analysis for Bridge 26 (ROYATH00540026) on Town Highway 54, crossing Broad Brook, Royalton, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-579

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 ROYATH00540026 on Town Highway 54 crossing Broad Brook, Royalton, 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 central Vermont. The 11.9-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover on the left bank upstream and downstream is pasture with trees and brush on the immediate banks. The right bank, upstream and downstream of the bridge, is forested.

In the study area, Broad Brook has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.01 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 37 ft and an average bank height of 4 ft. The channel bed material ranges from sand to boulders with a median grain size (D50) of 66.3 mm (0.218 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I site visit on April 13, 1995 and the Level II site visit on July 11, 1996, indicated that the reach was stable.

The Town Highway 54 crossing of Broad Brook is a 29-ft-long, one-lane bridge consisting of one 24-foot steel-beam span with a timber deck (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, March 23, 1995). The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 23.3 ft. The bridge is supported by a vertical, concrete face laid-up stone abutment with concrete wingwalls on the left and a laid-up stone abutment on the right. The channel is skewed approximately 20 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is zero degrees.

A scour hole 1.0 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the downstream end of the right abutment during the Level I assessment. Also, at the upstream end of the left abutment, the footing is exposed 0.5 ft. The scour protection measures at the site included type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) along the upstream left bank, at the upstream end of the upstream left wingwall, along the entire length of the downstream left wingwall, and at the upstream end of the right abutment. 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 1.4 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the incipient roadway-overtopping discharge, which was less than the 100-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 2.2 to 7.4 ft on the left and from 14.7 to 17.7 ft on the right. The worst-case abutment scour occurred at the incipient roadway-overtopping discharge for the left and at the 500-year discharge for the right. 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 26 (ROYATH00540026) on Town Highway 54, crossing Broad Brook, Royalton, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 51 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Broad Brook