Level II scour analysis for Bridge 23 (WEELTH00210023) on Town Highway 21, crossing Miller Run, Wheelock, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-795

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 WEELTH00210023 on Town Highway 21 crossing Miller Run, Wheelock, 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 28.3-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 and downstream right banks while the surface cover on the upstream and downstream left banks consists primarily of short grass and buildings with shrubs, brush and trees along the immediate banks. In the study area, Miller Run has an incised, straight channel with a slope of approximately 0.003 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 76 ft and an average bank height of 6 ft. The channel bed material ranges from gravel to boulder with a median grain size (D50) of 67.5 mm (0.221 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on August 2, 1995, indicated that the reach was stable. The Town Highway 21 crossing of Miller Run is a 46-ft-long, one-lane bridge consisting of one 43-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 42.1 ft. The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 20 degrees to the opening while the computed opening-skew-to-roadway is 25 degrees. A scour hole 1.0 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed under the bridge, along the center of the channel, during the Level I assessment. The scour protection measures at the site included type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) along the downstream left bank and along the entire base length of the upstream and downstream right wingwalls. Type-3 stone fill (less than 48 inches diameter) protection was observed along the upstream end of the upstream left wingwall and randomly scattered along the left abutment. Type-4 stone fill (less than 60 inches diameter) protection was observed along the entire base length of 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) 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 was computed to be zero ft. Abutment scour ranged from 9.1 to 10.8 ft along the right abutment and from 9.8 to 12.3 ft along the left 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”. 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. 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 23 (WEELTH00210023) on Town Highway 21, crossing Miller Run, Wheelock, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
iv, 50 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Miller Run