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Nowadays, bridges have become commonplace in our modern society. They offer great solutions to problems such as carrying heavy loads across long distances or providing a safe route for pedestrians and vehicles. But have you ever wondered how bridges are built? Here’s a quick breakthrough of the main components of a bridge and how they function.

The Main Components

The Type of Superstructure

The main part of a bridge is its superstructure. The superstructure bears the weight of the load as it passes through the bridge. It comprises the deck slab, girders, truss, etc. The specific components vary based on the type of bridge and its materials such as concrete or steel.

Not only does the decking hold the load weight, but it also helps transmit the weight and pressure to the below substructures of the bridge.

The Type of Substructure

The substructure of a bridge is the component that supports the superstructure and distributes the load to the bridge footings and foundation. They consist of piers, abutments, wing walls all of which facilitate the process of transmitting the weight of the load to the earth.

Different Types of Bridges

Although there are various designs of a bridge the main components will always stay the same. The only difference is the pattern or direction in which the pressure is distributed. For example, here’s the difference between the beam and truss bridge.

Beam Bridge

A Beam bridge, sometimes called a stringer or girder bridge, is one of the most basic types of bridge. Its design consists of horizontal beams and vertical piers that typically include two or more spans with an abutment or pier at each end. Beam bridges can be constructed using wood, steel, or concrete and are built for short distances as their only support is from piers.

In this design, the load is compressed on the top of the bridge and then applied down the piers to the earth.

Truss Bridge

A truss bridge design involves interconnected triangles that distribute the weight over a wide space. This unique design allows the truss bridge to carry a heavier weight capacity with fewer materials. These lightweight and durable bridges can be utilized for both short and long distances.

Truss bridges function by transferring the weight of the load from a single point to a wider area. When the load is applied to the truss bridge the pressure is shared among the triangular designs for additional support and then redirected to the earth through the bridge’s substructure. 

Build with U.S. Bridge

At U.S. Bridge, we work with the highest quality materials and engineers when designing and building bridges. Not to mention, our bridges are well-made, easy to maintain, and available in a variety of design and support types.

With decades of experience and our team of dedicated experts, you can feel confident in trusting an industry leader to build your bridge. Contact us today for a free quote or use our exclusive Bridgescope tool!

Bridges play a key role in our lives by connecting our communities, promoting commerce travels, and contributing to our country’s economic development. But who designs these bridges and what does a bridge engineer do?

Bridge Engineers

Bridge Engineers are civil engineers responsible for designing and building bridges and other highway-related structures. Typical tasks for bridge engineers include designing and maintaining bridge structures, minimizing environmental impact, and supervising the fabrication process. As well as completing site investigations, data collection, identifying environmental risks, analyzing manufacturing processes, supervising construction, and more.

Although the exact duties of a bridge engineer may differ, it’s safe to say they’ll always play a critical role in any bridge construction project.

Designing and maintaining a bridge is no easy task. That’s why bridge engineers are required to have skills such as analytical thinking, leadership, supervisory skills, organization, and creativity. Not to mention, time management and budgeting skills which are essential for projects with restricted time or resources.

Bridge Engineering: It’s All About The Details

Meetings & Details

Naturally, the first part of any construction project is understanding the full scope. This meeting typically covers topics and details such as bridge series and styles, special enhancements or treatments, railing criteria, etc. This will help the bridge engineer to draw up some preliminary sketches of the bridge’s general framing plan, bridge geometry, and basic construction.

These designs help illustrate the bridge and prepare the project for its next step.

Digital Renderings

One of the most powerful tools for bridge engineers to utilize is technology. Bridge engineers will often use computers to create virtual models to assist in visualizing a project. This helps the team picture the visual impacts of the bridge to any given site as well as the aesthetic qualities. Our bridge engineers are able to model your proposed bridge over a digital terrain model or incorporate it into photos of your existing site.

This aspect is extremely useful, especially if a construction project requires models to help stakeholders buy-in or make a sale.

Final Process

Once a commitment has been made, the design process officially begins and a team is assigned. The project engineer analyzes the proposed bridge including the specified design loads and appropriate load factors, along with applying numerous code checks. Eventually, the bridge engineer begins to sketch the design details and information for the designer. These sketches convey all the information previously discussed and finalized.

The engineer will also markup the general notes and list the design assumptions and pertinent bridge data onto the title sheet.

Part of this process involves reviewing the design calculations and construction plans to verify the scope and specifications. Also checked is the plan content to ensure it reflects the engineer’s design intent and that no conflicts exist and that no omissions have occurred. The final step before submittal is usually the application of the Professional Engineer’s seal and signature.

Designed for Success at U.S. Bridge

At U.S. Bridge, we’ve been engineering and building bridges for over 80 years. Our engineers have the skills and experience to build bridges in many different styles and sizes to fit the needs of your project. Find out more about how U.S. Bridge has everything you need to make your project a success.

Contact us for a free quote or check our exclusive Bridge Scope tool to start building your project today.

Prefabricated Bridge

Many decisions are made when it comes to new bridge construction, one of those is the choice of a prefabricated bridge or built on-site construction. How do you know which one works best for your project? Here’s a guide to help you understand prefabricated bridges and when to use them.

What are Prefabricated Bridges?

Prefabricated bridges are built in a separate location, then transported to the construction site for installation. They are a popular form of accelerated bridge construction with their own benefits and considerations.

With U.S. Bridge, our Bridge Kits are a solution for the time-constrained and budget-focused bridge construction projects. We engineer, design, manufacture, and galvanize every piece of the bridge. After each part is ready, we send it to the construction site along with a dedicated member of the U.S. Bridge team to oversee the construction.

Why Use a Prefabricated Bridge?

The first benefit of prefabricated bridges is their quick assembly rate. Unlike building on-site, prefabricated bridges are essentially already made just in separate pieces that are later connected on site. Another advantage is that they are less susceptible to weather delays due to their short assembly time, which decreases the disruption to traffic.

Moreover, prefabricated construction is more energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable in comparison to building on site. As construction takes place within a factory, extra materials are recycled in-house for the next project.

Despite popular belief, modular construction is more affordable and allows flexibility to construction teams. The financial savings not only stem from a shorter construction time but it is also due to the discounts prefabricated construction receives from bulk orders.

In addition, as each component of the bridge is built in a controlled environment, our team ensures the quality of the materials. Furthermore, in-door construction provides a safer setting by decreasing workers’ exposure to open traffic.

When to Use Prefabricated Bridges

The flexibility of prefabricated bridges allows them to be used in various situations. Accelerated construction requires fewer trucks of equipment and materials which is beneficial for remote locations or uneven topography. For instance, prefabricated bridges are often used in emergency situations due to the ease of assembling and disassembling them.

Additionally, prefabricated bridges will benefit your project if your team doesn’t have much experience in bridge construction, as U.S. Bridge sends a member of our team to oversee the construction.

Shorter Construction Time

Due to its accelerated assembly rate, prefabricated bridges are ideal for projects that require temporary construction or projects that are concerned with traffic delays. This is especially the case with U.S. Bridge, as our team can ensure the bridge is built correctly from the start.

If on-site construction time needs to be shorter, then a prefabricated bridge is the best choice. Because of assistance from U.S. Bridge, the bridge construction can be much more efficient and smooth.

Materials for Prefabricated Bridges

Steel and concrete are perhaps the most popular form of prefabricated bridges. The material and the environment of the bridge dictates the design of the bridge. Other components of your bridge project will determine if prefabricated bridges are right for you.

U.S. Bridge: Experts in Prefabricated Bridge Construction

With over 80 years in the bridge construction industry, we’ve engineered and built over 10,000 bridges worldwide. Prefabricated bridge constructions make up a good portion of those constructions. Here at U.S. Bridge, we are dedicated to our customers and the construction of their bridges.

All of our prefabricated Bridge Kits are custom-designed, come with our hands-on expertise in bridge construction, and are built to fit your bridge project needs and budget. Contact us today and let’s talk about how we can make your bridge project a long-lasting success.