Level II scour analysis for Bridge 5 (MORRTH00060005) on Town Highway 6, crossing Bedell Brook, Morristown, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-793
Prepared in cooperation with Vermont Agency of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration
By:  and 



This report provides the results of a detailed Level II analysis of scour potential at structure MORRTH00060005 on Town Highway 6 crossing Bedell Brook, Morristown, 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 north-central Vermont. The 6.28-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover consists of pasture, shrubs, and brushland. In the study area, Bedell Brook has a sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.01 ft/ ft, an average channel top width of 56 ft and an average bank height of 4 ft. The predominant channel bed material is gravel with a median grain size (D50) of 35.8 mm (0.117 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on July 16, 1996, indicated that the reach was laterally unstable. There are wide point bars and cut-banks with slipping bank material noted upstream and downstream of this site. The Town Highway 6 crossing of Bedell Brook is a 44-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 42-foot concrete T-beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, October 26, 1995). 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. A scour hole up to 1.5 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the left abutment and upstream and downstream left wingwalls during the Level I assessment. The scour protection measure at this site was type-4 stone fill (less than 60 inches diameter) on the left bank and left wingwall upstream, the left abutment and the downstream left wingwall. 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 1.1 to 2.0 feet. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 3.9 to 8.6 feet. The worst-case abutment scour occurred at the 500-year event. 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 5 (MORRTH00060005) on Town Highway 6, crossing Bedell Brook, Morristown, Vermont
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 97-793
DOI 10.3133/ofr97793
Year Published 1997
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Pembroke, NH
Description iv, 47 p.
Country United States
State Vermont
City Morristown
Other Geospatial Bedell Brook
Scale 24000
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