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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.

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.