Level II scour analysis for Bridge 35, (ANDOVT00110035) on State Route 11, crossing the Middle Branch Williams River, Andover, Vermont

Open-File Report 98-87

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 ANDOVT00110035 on State Route 11 crossing the Middle Branch Williams River, Andover, 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 Green Mountain section of the New England physiographic province in south-central Vermont. The 4.65-mi2 drainage area is in a predominantly rural and forested basin. In the vicinity of the study site, the surface cover is forest on the left bank and small trees and brush on the right bank upstream and downstream of the bridge.

In the study area, the Middle Branch Williams River has an incised, meandering channel with a slope of approximately 0.02 ft/ft, an average channel top width of 57 ft and an average bank height of 4 ft. The channel bed material ranges from gravel to boulder with a median grain size (D50) of 31.4 mm (0.103 ft). The geomorphic assessment at the time of the Level I and Level II site visit on August 28, 1996, indicated that the reach was laterally unstable. There are cut-banks upstream and downstream of the bridge and an island in the channel upstream.

The State Route 11 crossing of the Middle Branch Williams River is a 28-ft-long, two-lane bridge consisting of one 24-ft concrete tee-beam span (Vermont Agency of Transportation, written communication, March 28, 1995). The opening length of the structure parallel to the bridge face is 23.6 ft. The bridge is supported by vertical, concrete abutments with wingwalls. The channel is skewed approximately 45 degrees to the opening while the computed opening-skew-to-roadway is 25 degrees. 

A scour hole ranging from 1.5 to 1.75 ft deeper than the mean thalweg depth was observed along the upstream left wingwall, the left abutment, and the downstream left wingwall during the Level I assessment. The scour countermeasures at the site included type-1 stone fill (less than 12 inches diameter) at the right road approach upstream and downstream of the bridge and type-2 stone fill (less than 36 inches diameter) at the left road approach upstream and downstream of the bridge. 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. In addition, the incipient roadway-overtopping discharge was 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 2.0 to 4.3 ft. The worst-case contraction scour occurred at the 500-year discharge. Abutment scour ranged from 14.4 to 16.5 ft at the left abutment and from 6.3 to 8.8 ft at the right abutment. 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:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Level II scour analysis for Bridge 35, (ANDOVT00110035) on State Route 11, crossing the Middle Branch Williams River, Andover, Vermont
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Pembroke, NH
iv, 51 p.
United States