Level II scour analysis for Bridge 22 (WALDTH00180022) on Town Highway 18, crossing Coles Brook, Walden, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-768

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 WALDTH00180022 on Town Highway 18 crossing Coles Brook also known as Joes Brook, Walden, 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 northeastern Vermont. The 12.5-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is predominantly forested while the downstream left bank is shrub and brushland. In the study area, the Coles Brook has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.004 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 54 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 124.1 mm (0.407 ft). The D50 was taken from a pebble count in the downstream channel, because the upstream channel is primarily bedrock. The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on August 8, 1995, indicated that the reach was stable. The Town Highway 18 crossing of the Coles Brook is a 46-ft-long, one-lane bridge consisting of one 44-foot steel-beam span with a wooden deck (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, April 5, 1995). The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 41.4 ft. The bridge is supported by a vertical, concrete abutment with wingwalls on the left and by a vertical, stone abutment with stone wingwalls with a concrete cap on the right. The channel is skewed approximately 5 degrees to the opening while the computed opening-skew-to-roadway is 10 degrees. The only scour protection measure at the site was a stone wall along the upstream left bank and type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) along the entire base length of the upstream left wingwall, left abutment, and downstream left wing 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) for the 100-year and 500-year discharges. 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 0.0 ft. Abutment scour ranged from 6.4 to 7.9 ft at the left abutment and from 11.8 to 14.9 ft at 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”. Scouredstreambed 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 particlesize 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 22 (WALDTH00180022) on Town Highway 18, crossing Coles Brook, Walden, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 48 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Coles Brook