Level II scour analysis for Bridge 30 (NEWHTH00050030) on Town Highway 5, crossing the New Haven River, New Haven, Vermont

Open-File Report 98-58

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 NEWHTH00050030 on Town Highway 5 crossing the New Haven River, New Haven, 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 (Federal Highway Administration, 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 115-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 right bank upstream and downstream of the bridge while the immediate banks have dense woody vegetation. The upstream left bank is also pasture. The downstream left bank is forested.

In the study area, the New Haven River has an incised, sinuous channel with a slope of approximately 0.01 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 127 ft and an average bank height of 5 ft. The channel bed material ranges from silt to cobble with a median grain size (D50) of 20.4 mm (0.067 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on June 19, 1996, indicated that the reach was laterally unstable. The stream bends through the bridge and impacts the left bank where there is a cut bank and scour hole.

The Town Highway 5 crossing of the New Haven River is a 181-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of four 45-ft concrete tee-beam spans (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, December 15, 1995). The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 175.9 ft. The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with stone fill spill-through embankments and three concrete piers. The channel is skewed approximately 15 degrees to the opening while the computed opening-skew-to-roadway is 10 degrees.

A scour hole 4.5 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the downstream left bank during the Level I assessment. Also observed was a scour hole 1.5 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth at the upstream end of the middle pier. The only scour protection measure at the site was type-3 stone fill (less than 48 inches diameter) in front of the left and right abutments creating spill through slopes. 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 0.7 to 2.1 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Left abutment scour ranged from 6.8 to 8.4 ft. The worst-case left abutment scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Right abutment scour ranged from 11.2 to 14.0 ft. The worst-case right abutment scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Pier scour ranged from 12.9 to 19.3 ft. The worst-case pier 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.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Level II scour analysis for Bridge 30 (NEWHTH00050030) on Town Highway 5, crossing the New Haven River, New Haven, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 51 p.
United States
New Haven
Other Geospatial:
New Haven River