You are on page 1of 3

Bridge types Bridges generally are considered to be composed of three separate parts: substructure, superstructure, and deck.

The substructure or foundation of a bridge consists of the piers and abutments which carry the superimposed load of the superstructure to the underlying soil or rock. The superstructure is that portion of a bridge or trestle lying above the piers and abutments. The deck or flooring is supported on the bridge superstructure; it carries and is in direct contact with the traffic for which passage is provided. Bridges are classified in several ways. Thus, according to the use they serve, they may be termed railway, highway, canal, aqueduct, utility pipeline, or pedestrian bridges. If they are classified by the materials of which they are constructed (principally the superstructure), they are called steel, concrete, timber, stone, or aluminum bridges. Deck bridges carry the deck on the very top of the superstructure. Through bridges carry the deck within the superstructure. The type of structural action is denoted by the application of terms such as truss, arch, suspension, stringer or girder, stayed-girder, composite construction, hybrid girder, continuous, cantilever, or orthotropic (steel deck plate). The two most general classifications are the fixed and the movable. In the former, the horizontal and vertical alignment of the bridge are permanent; in the latter, either the horizontal or vertical alignment is such that it can be readily changed to permit the passage beneath the bridge of traffic. Movable bridges are sometimes called drawbridges in an anachronistic reference to an obsolete type of movable bridge spanning the moats of castles. A singular type of bridge is the floating or pontoon bridge, which can be a movable bridge if it is designed so that a portion of it can be moved to permit the passage of water traffic. The term trestle is used to describe a series of short spans supported by braced towers, and the term viaduct is used to describe a high structure of short spans, often of arch construction. Fixed bridges.

This type of construction is selected when the vertical clearance provided beneath the bridge exceeds the clearance required by the traffic it spans. For very short spans, construction may be a solid slab or a number of beams; for longer spans, the choice may be girders or trusses. Still longer spans may dictate the use of arch construction, and if the spans are even longer, stayed-girder bridges are used. Suspension bridges are used for the longest spans. Beam bridges consist of a series of beams, usually of rolled steel, supporting the roadway directly on their top flanges. The beams are placed parallel to traffic and extend from abutment to abutment. Plate-girder bridges are used for longer spans than can be practically traversed with a beam bridge. In its simplest form, the plate girder consists of two flange plates welded to a web plate, the whole having the shape of an I. Box-girder bridges have steel girders fabricated by welding four plates into a box section. A conventional floor beam and stringer can be used on box-girder bridges, but the more economical arrangement is to widen the top flange plate of the box so that it serves as the deck. When this is done, the plate is stiffened to desired rigidity by closely spaced bar stiffeners or by corrugated or honeycomb-type plates. These stiffened decks, which double as the top flange of the box girders, are termed orthotropic. The wearing surface on such bridges is usually a relatively thin layer of asphalt. Truss bridges, consisting of members vertically arranged in a triangular pattern, can be used when the crossing is too long to be spanned economically by simple plate girders. Where there is sufficient clearance underneath the bridge, the deck bridge is more economical than the through bridge because the trusses can be placed closer together, reducing the span of the floor beams. The continuous bridge is a structure supported at three or more points and capable of resisting bending and shearing forces at all sections throughout its length. The bending forces in the center of the span are reduced by the bending forces acting oppositely at the piers. Trusses, plate girders, and box girders can be made continuous. The advantages of a continuous bridge over a simple-span bridge (that is, one that does not extend beyond its two supports) are economy of material, convenience of erection (without need for falsework), and increased rigidity under traffic. The disadvantages are its sensitivity to relative change in the levels of supporting piers, the difficulty of

constructing the bridge to make it function as it is supposed to, and the occurrence of large movements at one location due to thermal changes. The cantilever bridge consists of two spans projecting toward each other and joined at their ends by a suspended simple span. The projecting spans are known as cantilever arms, and these, plus the suspended span, cons