Bridge Deck Designs: The Benefits of Steel

Bridge Deck Designs: The Benefits of Steel

The choice of material for your bridge deck construction is critical for the lifespan of the bridge. There are several reasons why steel may be the right choice for your bridge deck. At U.S. Bridge, we have various custom options for the floor and deck of our bridge constructions to ensure our bridges are sustainable long-term, including many steel solutions.

What is a Bridge Deck?

A bridge deck is the surface of the bridge that will serve as a roadway for vehicles, bikes, or pedestrians. To guarantee safety for traffic, these decks must be sturdy enough to withstand constant pressure. There are two primary structure types for bridge decks: bridge decks cast on top of beams or stringers and superstructure systems in which the top of the superstructure forms the top of the driving surface.

U.S. Bridge builds custom bridge decks depending on the project, from concrete deck slabs to open grid steel decks to nail-laminated timber floors. The most commonly constructed deck is the concrete deck slab. These structural slabs are designed to be between seven and nine inches thick and are reinforced with steel bars.

Steel Bridge Decks

U.S. Bridge uses corrugated steel bridge planks for beam or truss bridges, and these can later be filled with asphalt or concrete for traffic. Another common type of steel deck is open grid steel bridge flooring.

These decks are very common and are easy to install. These are lightweight sections of steel that increase bridge support for large weights traveling across the bridge. The steel grids are filled or partially filled with concrete or asphalt, or they can be left unfilled.

Steel Bridge Decks are Easy to Install

Open grid steel bridge decks are manufactured in sections before being delivered and installed at the bridge site. The connections between the panels are bolted or welded, though bolted connections are preferred. Thus, metal bridge decking is ideal for tight construction schedules and quick installation processes. Even so, steel bridge decks allow for innovative solutions when building your bridge.

Steel is Environmentally Friendly

Steel is one of the most environmentally-friendly materials used in bridge construction. Not only is it used in bridge decks, but it’s frequently used in the superstructure of U.S. Bridges. Raw material for steel bridges often come from scrap or recycled steel. New steel bridge construction in the U.S. annually uses 350,000 tons of scrap metal. This recycled steel is equally as sturdy as newly manufactured steel. Not only is much of the material recycled, but no steel is ever wasted, as each piece is manufactured for a specific destination.

Longer spans are also achievable with steel to cross streams, lakes, and other wetlands. In turn, longer spans reduce the number of piers necessary and reduce environmental impact. Steel is highly-adaptable material and can be used in various climates. In addition to the environmental benefits, building with light-weight steel is much safer and faster.

Steel Bridge Decks are Cost-Effective

In general, bridges with steel components drastically reduce the life cycle cost of the bridge. For municipalities, faster construction reduces construction time, as well as traffic and community disruption. In the long term, steel components are shown to require less maintenance than concrete. Since steel is lighter weight, it takes lighter equipment to construct, which also saves money.

Historically, the most vulnerable part of a bridge is the deck. However, this is changing with new bridge engineering. Engineers now have a better understanding of fatigue behavior, and how to build steel bridges that can last long without major maintenance. Additionally, high-performance steels are developed specifically for bridges to increase toughness and durability.

Start Building Your Bridge Today

Want to bring your bridge project to life? At U.S. Bridge, we offer a wide range of prefabricated bridge styles to meet your needs. Whether your setting is urban or rural, modern or traditional, we can help you achieve your goals while creating a lasting impression.

Recently, we have introduced our Bridge Kits, which are a DIY bridge solution for the time-constrained bridge construction. We manufacture and ship the bridge parts, then the material is installed by your own crews. Ready to get started? Call today or contact the U.S. Bridge team online.