Level II scour analysis for Bridge 13 (LINCTH00010013) on Town Highway 1, crossing Cota Brook, Lincoln, Vermont

Open-File Report 98-157
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 LINCTH00010013 on Town Highway 1 crossing Cota Brook, Lincoln, 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 (FHWA, 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 west-central Vermont. The 3.0-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is forest along the upstream right bank and brushland along the upstream left bank. Downstream of the bridge, the surface cover is pasture along the left and right banks.

In the study area, Cota Brook has an sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.01 ft/ ft, an average channel top width of 30 ft and an average bank height of 2 ft. The channel bed material ranges from sand to cobble with a median grain size (D50) of 34.7 mm (0.114 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on June 10, 1996, indicated that the reach was laterally unstable due to cut-banks and wide, vegetated point bars upstream and downstream of the bridge.

The Town Highway 1 crossing of Cota Brook is a 38-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of a 36-foot steel-stringer span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, December 14, 1995). The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 34.4 ft. The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments. The channel is skewed approximately 15 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is zero degrees.

A scour hole 2.0 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the upstream right bank during the Level I assessment. Along the right abutment, it is 0.25 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth. Scour protection measures at the site included type-1 stone fill (less than 12 inches diameter) along the upstream right bank and type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) along the left and right abutments and along the downstream left 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 Davis, 1995) for the 100- 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 ranged from 0.0 to 1.7 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 9.1 to 11.3 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”. 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 Davis, 1995, p. 46). 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.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Level II scour analysis for Bridge 13 (LINCTH00010013) on Town Highway 1, crossing Cota Brook, Lincoln, Vermont
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 98-157
DOI 10.3133/ofr98157
Year Published 1998
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Pembroke, NH
Description iv, 49 p.
Country United States
State Vermont
City Lincoln
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