Level II scour analysis for Bridge 7 (WALDTH00020007) on Town Highway 2, crossing Coles Brook, Walden, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-632

Prepared in cooperation with Vermont Agency of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration
and ORCID iD



This report provides the results of a detailed Level II analysis of scour potential at structure WALDTH00020007 on Town Highway 2 crossing Coles Brook, Walden, Vermont (figures 1–8). Coles Brook is also referred to as Joes Brook. 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 north-eastern Vermont. The 12.8-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is predominantly shrub and brushland.

In the study area, Coles Brook has a sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.005 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 cobble with a median grain size (D50) of 32.9 mm (0.108 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on August 9, 1995, indicated that the reach was laterally unstable due to cut-banks, point bars, and loose unconsolidated bed material.

The Town Highway 2 crossing of Coles Brook is a 74-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 71-foot steel-beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, April 5, 1995). The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 69.3 ft. The bridge is supported by spill-through abutments. The channel is skewed approximately 35 degrees to the opening while the measured opening-skew-to-roadway is 15 degrees.

A scour hole 1.5 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed from 60 ft. to 100 ft. downstream during the Level I assessment. Scour protection measures at the site include: type-1 stone fill (less than 12 inches diameter) along the right bank upstream, at the downstream end of the downstream left wingwall and downstream right wingwall; and type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) along the left bank upstream, at the upstream end of the upstream right wingwall, and along the entire base of the left and right abutments. 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 0.8 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the incipient roadway-overtopping discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 5.7 to 12.9 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 7 (WALDTH00020007) on Town Highway 2, crossing Coles Brook, Walden, 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:
Coles Brook