Level II scour analysis for Bridge 31 (BRISTH00030031) on Town Highway 3, crossing the New Haven River, Bristol, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-628
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 BRISTH00030031 on Town Highway 3 crossing the New Haven River, 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 in west-central, western Vermont. The 69.1-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is forest except on the downstream left overbank which has closely spaced houses with lawns.

In the study area, the New Haven River has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.01 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 136 ft and an average bank height of 13 ft. The channel bed material ranges from gravel to boulder with a median grain size (D50) of 233 mm (0.765 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on June 20, 1996, indicated that the reach was stable.

The Town Highway 3 crossing of the New Haven River is a 105-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of a 101-ft-long pony truss span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, November 30, 1995). The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 98 ft. The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 60 degrees to the opening, with no opening-skew-to-roadway.

A local scour hole 3 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed near the exit cross section during the Level I assessment. Scour countermeasures included a stone wall on the upstream right bank, type-3 stone fill (less than 48 inches diameter) on the upstream and downstream left banks, and type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) on the downstream end of the right abutment and on 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.

There was no contraction scour for any of the modelled flows. Abutment scour ranged from 12.7 to 16.4 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 Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Level II scour analysis for Bridge 31 (BRISTH00030031) on Town Highway 3, crossing the New Haven River, Bristol, Vermont
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 97-628
DOI 10.3133/ofr97628
Year Published 1997
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Pembroke, NH
Description iv, 48 p.
Country United States
State Vermont
City Bristol
Other Geospatial New Haven River
Scale 24000
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional metadata about this publication, not found in other parts of the page is in this table