Level II scour analysis for Bridge 32 (FERRTH00190032) on Town Highway 19, crossing the South Slang Little Otter Creek, Ferrisburgh, Vermont

Open-File Report 98-25

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 FERRTH00190032 on Town Highway 19 crossing the South Slang Little Otter Creek (Hawkins Slang Brook), Ferrisburg, 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 Champlain section of the St. Lawrence Valley physiographic province in west-central Vermont. The 8.00-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover consists of wetlands upstream and downstream of the bridge with trees and pasture on the wide flood plains.

In the study area, the South Slang Little Otter Creek has a meandering channel with essentially no channel slope, an average channel top width of 932 ft and an average bank height of 6 ft. The channel bed material ranges from clay to sand. Sieve analysis indicates that greater than 50% of the sample is coarse silt and clay and thus a medium grain size by use of sieve analysis was indeterminate. The median grain size was assumed to be a course silt with a size (D50) of 0.061mm (0.0002 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on July 2, 1996, indicated that the reach was stable.

The Town Highway 19 crossing of the South Slang Little Otter Creek is a 45-ft-long, twolane bridge consisting of one 42-foot concrete box-beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, December 11, 1995). The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 41.8 ft. The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments. The channel is skewed approximately 5 degrees to the opening while the opening-skew-to-roadway is zero degrees. 

A scour hole 3.5 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed in the upstream channel. Also a scour hole 2.0 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the right abutment during the Level I assessment. The scour protection measures at the site are type-1 stone fill (less than 12 inches diameter) around the left and right abutments, along the upstream and downstream road embankments, and across the entire upstream and downstream bridge face. 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. 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 14.0 to 20.2 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 3.2 to 8.3 ft. The worst-case abutment scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. The predicted scour is well above the pile bottom elevations. 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.

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:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Level II scour analysis for Bridge 32 (FERRTH00190032) on Town Highway 19, crossing the South Slang Little Otter Creek, Ferrisburgh, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 46 p.
United States