Level II scour analysis for Bridge 29 (HUNTTH00290029) on Town Highway 29, crossing Cobb Brook, Huntington, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-652

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 HUNTTH00290029 on Town Highway 29 crossing Cobb Brook, Huntington, 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 northwestern Vermont. The 4.16-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is forest upstream and downstream of the bridge.

In the study area, Cobb Brook has an incised, straight channel with a slope of approximately 0.024 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 53 ft and an average bank height of 4 ft. The channel bed material ranges from gravel to bedrock with a median grain size (D50) of 112.0 mm (0.367 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on June 25, 1996, indicated that the reach was stable.

The Town Highway 29 crossing of Cobb Brook is a 36-ft-long, one-lane bridge consisting of one 30-foot steel-beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, December 11, 1995) and a wooden deck. The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 27 ft.The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments. The channel is skewed approximately 25 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway was measured to be 20 degrees. VTAOT records indicate an opening-skew-to-roadway of zero degrees.

A scour hole 1.5 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed extending from 12 ft upstream of the upstream end of the left abutment to 10 ft under the bridge in the center of the channel during the Level I assessment. Another scour hole approximately 1.2 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the downstream end of the right abutment during the Level I assessment. The scour protection measures at the site included type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) along the upstream end of the right abutment and type-3 stone fill (less than 48 inches diameter) along the upstream end of the upstream left retaining wall. 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 zero ft. Abutment scour ranged from 9.9 to 12.5 ft along the left abutment and from 6.2 to 8.6 ft along the right abutment. 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 29 (HUNTTH00290029) on Town Highway 29, crossing Cobb Brook, Huntington, 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:
Cobb Brook