Level II scour analysis for Bridge 25 (REDSTH00360025) on Town Highway 36, crossing the West Branch Deerfield River, Readsboro, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-653

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 REDSTH00360025 on Town Highway 36 crossing the West Branch Deerfield River, Readsboro, 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 south-central Vermont. The 14.5-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is pasture on the upstream right bank and forest on the upstream left bank. The surface cover on the downstream right and left banks is primarily grass, shrubs and brush.

In the study area, the West Branch Deerfield River has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.02 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 65 ft and an average bank height of 4 ft. The channel bed material ranges from gravel to boulders, with a median grain size (D50) of 117 mm (0.383 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on August 1, 1996, indicated that the reach was stable.

The Town Highway 36 crossing of the West Branch Deerfield River is a 59-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 57-foot concrete T-beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, September 28, 1995). The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 54 ft. The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 50 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is 30 degrees.

During the Level I assessment, a scour hole approximately 2 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the upstream right wingwall and a scour hole approximately 1 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the downstream left wingwall. The scour protection measure at the site was type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) at the downstream end of the downstream left wingwall, at the upstream end of the upstream right wingwall, at the downstream end of the right abutment, along the entire base length of the downstream right wingwall, along the upstream right bank and along the downstream left bank. A stone wall was noted along the upstream left 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.

Contraction scour for all modelled flows ranged from 0.0 to 0.6 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the incipient-overtopping discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 15.1 to 16.3 ft along the left abutment and from 7.4 to 9.2 ft along the right abutment. The worst-case abutment scour occurred at the incipient-overtopping and 500-year discharges for the left abutment and at the 500-year discharge for the right abutment. 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 25 (REDSTH00360025) on Town Highway 36, crossing the West Branch Deerfield River, Readsboro, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 54 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Deerfield River