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Truss Bridges

Jonathan Hays

Devynne Bothne

Artjom Novick


Nathan Hinkle

Features of Truss Bridges

What is a truss
Utilizes triangular structures
Usually made from straight, rigid unit connect with
Trusses are used in many different structures, ranging
from buildings to airplanes

Design Strengths & Weaknesses

Simple to design
Many applications
Inexpensive to construct
and design
Easy to build
No falsework required

Can't cross long spans
Unable to bear large

Different Types of Truss Bridge

Warren Truss
Simple design with no vertical members. This
design experiences no torsion
Pratt Truss
The diagonal members slope towards the
middle, and all are under tension. This design
lends itself well to long spans
Truss Arch
Many variations exists, but all utilize the ability
of arches to evenly distribute load
Howe Truss
Triangular designs form diamonds that provide
tension through vertical cables.

Warren Truss

Pratt Truss

Truss Arch

Howe Truss
William Howe, from Spencer, Massachusetts,
patented his new truss design in 1840, and
extended the patent in 1850 with design
improvements. The Howe Truss was
originally designed to combine diagonal
timber compression members and vertical
iron rod tension members, as seen in the
Comstock Bridge. However, the Howe Truss
was later used in steel bridges. It's
impressive strength over long spans
contributed to its overwhelming popularity as
a railroad bridge.

Rexleigh Covered Howe Truss Bridge:

Warren Truss
It is one of the most popular bridge designs
and examples of it can be found
everywhere in the world. The Warren
Truss uses equilateral triangles to spread
out the loads on the bridge. This is
opposed to the Neville Truss which used
isosceles triangles. The equilateral
triangles minimize the forces to only
compression and tension.

This bridge type is most commonly seen used for train tracks.

Truss Bridge Examples

Luzern Kapellbruecke

Oldest wooden bridge in Europe

Oldest existing truss bridge
Footbridge built in 1333

Astoria-Megler Bridge

Cantilever/through truss hybrid

Truss Bridge Examples Comparison

Luzern Kapellbruecke
Entirely wooden
Short spans, and low

Astoria-Megler Bridge
Steel construction
Very long span &
clearance: 376m long,
and 60m clearance
Irregular design
(cantilever/truss hybrid)

Truss Bridge Physics

A key feature of truss bridges is that no members
experience torsion. This simplifies the physics (part of the
reason why truss bridges were used so early) down to just
tension and compression.

Different types of truss bridges

experience tension & compression in
different places.

Famous Truss Bridge Failures

I-35W Mississippi River Bridge
Collapsed on August 1st, 2007 while construction was
being performed on the deck of the bridge. The bridge
failed after repeated reports of excessive fatigue,
including buckling and shearing members. The failure
was caused by a fractured gusset plate.

Truss Bridge Failures

Ludendorff Bridge: Weight overpowered strength of beams. Reinforcements

were not placed or calculated correctly, especially during warfare.

I-5 Bridge Disaster: The height did not accommodate large trucks with a
larger height or weight. When a truck tore overhead beams it caused the
weight distribution to shift causing the bridge to become weaker.

Ludendorff Bridge

U.S. Army military engineers and their technicians worked strenuously to reinforce the bridge, welding in many
tons of reinforcing beams to repair it from its ongoing battle damage and overwork. All the while as Military
Police were organizing troop, equipment, and traffic flow over the bridge expanding the bridgehead into a
perimeter large enough that the Germans could no longer attack the bridge with artillery or rockets. U.S. Army
Air Forces fighter planes also kept a strong defensive umbrella over the bridge to prevent Luftwaffe attacks.
Later on 17 March, ten days after its capture, the bridge suddenly collapsed into the Rhine.

I-5 Bridge Disaster

The cause of the collapse was determined to be an oversize load

striking several overhead support beams on the bridge, which led to an
immediate collapse

Truss Bridge Materials

Because the truss design has been used for so long, many
different materials have been used throughout history.
Early truss bridges, for example the Luzern Kapellbruecke
from 1333 uses all wood. As iron and steel became more
readily available in the late 19th century, truss bridges
began to be constructed from both wood and iron. Now,
steel is the primary choice for truss bridges.

Construction of Truss Bridges

The Truss Bridge is usually built from end to end before it
gets to the site. If the bridge had supported along its span,
it would have been constructed per between each tower.