Level II scour analysis for Bridge 29 (DORSTH00100029) on Town Highway 10, crossing the Mettawee River, Dorset, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-774
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 DORSTH00100029 on Town Highway 10 crossing the Mettawee River, Dorset, 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 Taconic section of the New England physiographic province in southwestern Vermont. The 9.5-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is forest on the upstream left overbank and the upstream and downstream right overbanks. The downstream left overbank is pasture and brushland.

In the study area, the Mettawee River has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.02 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 66 ft and an average bank height of 8 ft. The channel bed material ranges from gravel to boulders with a median grain size (D50) of 79.0 mm (0.259 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on August 5, 1996, indicated that the reach was stable.

The Town Highway 10 crossing of the Mettawee River is a 26-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of a 24-ft steel-stringer span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, September 28, 1995). The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 24.1 ft. The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 45 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is zero degrees.

At the upstream end of the right abutment, there is a scour hole 1.0 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth. Scour counter-measures at the site include type-1 stone fill (less than 12 inches diameter) along the downstream right wingwall. Type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) is present along the downstream left and right banks. Type-3 stone fill (less than 48 inches diameter) is present along the upstream left bank and sparsely in front of the right abutment. A concrete wall (old abutment) extends along the upstream right 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) for the 100- and 500-year discharges. In addition, the incipient roadway-overtopping discharge is determined and analyzed as another 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 0.4 to 1.9 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Left abutment scour ranged from 10.5 to 10.8 ft. The worst-case left abutment scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Right abutment scour ranged from 11.4 to 11.9 ft. The worst-case right abutment scour occurred at the 100-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 Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Level II scour analysis for Bridge 29 (DORSTH00100029) on Town Highway 10, crossing the Mettawee River, Dorset, Vermont
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 97-774
DOI 10.3133/ofr97774
Year Published 1997
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Pembroke, NH
Description iv, 51 p.
Country United States
State Vermont
City Dorset
Other Geospatial Mettawee River
Scale 24000
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page