Level II scour analysis for Bridge 28 (ROCHTH00370028) on Town Highway 37, crossing Brandon Brook, Rochester, Vermont

Open-File Report 98-273

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 ROCHTH00370028 on Town Highway 37 crossing Brandon Brook, Rochester, 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 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 central Vermont. The 8.0-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is pasture on the upstream left overbank although the immediate banks have dense woody vegetation. The upstream right overbank and downstream left and right overbanks are forested.

In the study area, the Brandon Brook has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.01 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 44 ft and an average bank height of 7 ft. The channel bed material ranges from gravel to cobbles with a median grain size (D50) of 84.2 mm (0.276 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I site visit on April 12, 1995 and Level II site visit on July 8, 1996, indicated that the reach was stable.

The Town Highway 37 crossing of the Brandon Brook is a 33-ft-long, one-lane bridge consisting of a 31-foot timber-stringer span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, March 22, 1995). The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 29.6 ft. The bridge is supported by vertical, timber log cribbing abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 5 degrees to the opening while the computed opening-skew-to-roadway is zero degrees.

A scour hole 1.0 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the upstream left wingwall and the left abutment during the Level I assessment. The only scour protection measure at the site was type-5 protection, an artificial levee, extending along the upstream right bank to the end of the upstream right 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. 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 zero ft. Left abutment scour ranged from 7.1 to 9.9 ft where the worst-case scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Right abutment scour ranged from 4.4 to 5.1 ft where the worst-case 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:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Level II scour analysis for Bridge 28 (ROCHTH00370028) on Town Highway 37, crossing Brandon Brook, Rochester, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 51 p.
United States