Level II scour analysis for Bridge 21 (WALDTH00450021) on Town Highway 45, crossing Joes Brook, Walden, Vermont

Open-File Report 97-799

Prepared in cooperation with Vermont Agency of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration
and ORCID iD



This report provides the results of a detailed Level II analysis of scour potential at structure WALDTH00450021 on Town Highway 45 crossing 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 VTAOT files state that the stream is Coles Brook, both the USGS and the VTAOT maps state that it is Joes Brook. The site is in the New England Upland section of the New England physiographic province in central Vermont. The 18.7-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, Joes Brook has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.01 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 76 ft and an average bank height of 5 ft. The channel bed material ranges from sand to boulder with a median grain size (D50) of 75.4 mm (0.247 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on July 27, 1995, indicated that the reach was stable. The Town Highway 45 crossing of Joes Brook is a 35-ft-long, one-lane bridge consisting of one 29-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 26.2 ft. The bridge is supported by vertical, “laid-up” concrete block abutments with no wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately zero degrees to the opening while the computed opening-skew-to-roadway is 5 degrees. The scour protection measures at the site included type-1 stone fill (less than 12 inches diameter) along the upstream left bank and along the entire base length of the left abutment. There is also type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) along the entire base length of the right abutment. 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 0.0 to 1.5 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 12.4 to 24.4 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”. 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 21 (WALDTH00450021) on Town Highway 45, crossing Joes Brook, Walden, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 52 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Joes Brook