Steel Bridge Myths: Concrete Bridges Outlast Steel Bridges

Steel Bridge Myths: Concrete Bridges Outlast Steel Bridges

In the contest for most durable bridge-building material, it seems the final two contenders are always steel and concrete. It’s not surprising. Both are ubiquitous in U.S. infrastructure design, and both are known for their durability. However, it’s time to dispel the long-held myth that concrete is more durable than steel for bridge building. Here are some steel bridge construction facts to support that point:

Steel Bridge Construction Facts

  • The first major pre-stressed concrete bridge, located near Philadelphia, was replaced after only 40 years in service. By contrast, there are many steel bridges that have lasted more than 100 years and are still strong and stable.
  • A study conducted by Lehigh University found that bridge material is not the key indicator of a bridge’s lifespan. Traffic and age are the two biggest factors.
  • In a 2003 article in the journal Civil Engineering, a study was conducted of some recently built concrete bridges. This study revealed significant structural defects, including corrosion that would be very hard to spot from the surface.
  • Finally, steel is milled under tightly controlled conditions, making it more predictable and homogenous.

More Bridge Construction Facts

There is no statistical evidence to support that concrete is better than steel. In fact, it has been shown that concrete cracks and has a lower tensile strength than other materials. Conversely, steel does not crack and often sees wear and tear at the joints and bearings, an easy enough fix for construction teams. It’s also relatively easy to expand steel bridges when a wider thoroughfare is needed. Concrete also takes a long time to cure, delaying construction times, and can be made up of a variety of materials and sediment that may or may not be ideal for building.

A U.S. Bridge is Durable

With over 80 years of bridge design and building experience, U.S. Bridge is proud to work with steel as its primary building medium. Our bridges are well-made, easy to maintain, and available in a variety of design and support types. Whatever span you need to cross, U.S. Bridge has what you need. For a free quote, please visit this link and find out how U.S. Bridge brings these steel bridge construction facts to life.