Choosing the Right Bridge Decking System

Bridge Decking

Bridges are an essential part of transportation, but each has its own job. With the various bridge decking systems, it can be difficult to decide which material is the best for your bridge construction project.

The choice of bridge decking and flooring for your bridge is important to the aesthetics and functionality of the construction. U.S. Bridge is here to help you make these important decisions before your bridge construction.

Below, we detail each of U.S. Bridge’s bridge decking options for consideration.

Steel Bridge Decking

Steel decking systems provide many noteworthy advantages such as durability, efficiency and rapid construction. This bridge decking is versatile and prefabricated. With prefabrication, parts are built off-site then transported to the designated location. 

Thus, as metal decks are lightweight in comparison to other materials such as concrete, it requires less substructural support thus saving money. Grid steel decking is categorized by whether it is “filled”, “partially-filled” or “unfilled” with concrete as a protective encasement. 

In addition to economic benefits, the metal decking system has great environmental benefits. Steel is one of the most recyclable materials in construction. Unlike other materials, recycled steel does not degrade and is reused at the same level as newly manufactured steel. 

Corrugated Steel Bridge Plank

This bridge decking system is used on beam or truss bridges. Each 3”-4.25” plank has specially formed flange that allows for proper overlapping. The planks are cut to match the bridge width and skew. Then, they are hot-dip galvanized after fabrication for long-lasting corrosion protection. 

These planks are typically filled with asphalt paving or concrete to create a wearing surface for traffic. With proper paving details, this is a very economical, long-lasting bridge decking option.

Exodermic Deck

Exodermic bridge decking is a lightweight system that combines a poured structural concrete slab with characteristics of open grid steel decks. This system is substantially lighter than a typical steel bridge decking system. Thus, exodermic bridge decking is a great option for projects with weight limiting constraints, while still maintaining long-lasting strength.

Concrete Bridge Decking

As a local resource, concrete is one of the most common materials chosen for bridge construction. A concrete deck slab is often obtainable both precast or cast-in-place. A precast concrete deck is both a low cost and time efficient option with an accelerated construction timeline. 

The concrete slab is reinforced with two layers of steel bars which are typically coated with epoxy for corrosion protection. Concrete is naturally durable and long-lasting which makes it a standard for many environments, such as bridges over saltwater. Its enduring nature allows concrete to withstand high temperatures and resist deterioration. 

Precast Concrete Plank

Precast concrete plank decking is a very low-cost and quick construction option for accelerated bridge construction. These are designed to be installed in one day to open to traffic by the end of the second day. 

The planks are sized to be lifted using light excavating equipment and attached to the steel superstructure. The precast concrete planks attach to the steel superstructure through headed studs and grout pockets formed in the plank. Quick setting, non-shrink grout can be mixed in batches on-site and poured easily.

Nail-Laminated Timber Floor

Timber deck systems are great for rural settings such as trails, forest roads. Along with rustic areas, they are great for areas with low traffic and limited weight capacity. Weather protection, heat resistance, and mold growth are all prevented by treating the timber.

Timber is lightweight and easy to work with. In addition, U.S. Bridge will supply the timber, nails, and attachment clips. Keep in mind that timber decks have a limited span range in comparison to other materials such as metal. However, the timber may remain exposed or it can be topped with asphalt paving.

Bridge Decking Done Right

See a bridge decking system that fits your construction? Or do you still have questions about the right decking option? Contact us or for more information on our bridges and services, or take a look at our detailed reports on our flooring options and assembly plans.