Level II scour analysis for Bridge 34 (CORITH0050034) on Town Highway 50, crossing the South Branch Waits River, Corinth, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-671

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 CORITH00500034 on Town Highway 50 crossing the South Branch Waits River, Corinth, 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 35.9-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is pasture upstream and downstream of the bridge while the immediate banks have dense woody vegetation.

In the study area, the South Branch Waits River has an incised, meandering channel with a slope of approximately 0.005 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 63 ft and an average bank height of 6 ft. The channel bed material ranges from sand to cobble with a median grain size (D50) of 23.7 mm (0.078 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on September 5, 1995, indicated that the reach was stable.

The Town Highway 50 crossing of the South Branch Waits River is a 56-ft-long, one-lane bridge consisting of one 54-foot steel thru-truss span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, March 24, 1995). The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 51.5 ft.The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with no wingwalls. Stone fill and bank material in front of the abutments create spill-through embankments. The channel is skewed approximately 30 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is 15 degrees.

A scour hole 2.5 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the left bank through the bridge during the Level I assessment. The only scour protection measure at the site was type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) along the left and right banks extending from upstream to downstream through the bridge. The stone fill under the bridge creates spill-through embankments. 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) for the 100- and 500-year discharges. In addition, the incipient roadway-overtopping discharge was determined and analyzed as other potential worst-case scour scenario. 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 3.0 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 2.4 to 6.3 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 and HIRE equations (abutment scour) give “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 34 (CORITH0050034) on Town Highway 50, crossing the South Branch Waits River, Corinth, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 53 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
South Branch Waits River