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History of Truss Bridge Designs

Perhaps one of the most impactful bridge designs in use in America are truss bridge designs. With their high weight capacity and various spans, it’s obvious why truss bridge designs are used for important projects such as the famous Golden Gate bridge, which uses a Warren deck truss.

But how did trusses become a staple of America’s most iconic bridge design? And how have they stayed relevant even in the modern-day? Today, we’ll explore the history of truss bridge designs.

The Evolution of a Truss Bridge Designs in America

A truss bridge design constitutes interconnected triangles that distribute the weight over a wider space. This allows the bridge to hold a heavier weight capacity while requiring less material for assembly. These bridges can be made in all shapes and sizes, but are most effective over short and medium spans.

In 1820, Ithiel Town’s lattice truss design became the first patented truss bridge design. It required little metal to build, which made it easy to construct. In the late 18th century, builders all across America began frequently building truss bridges due to their simplistic design. The truss bridge rose in popularity as timber production was easy and appeared limitless. Thus, perhaps the most commonly built bridge of the time was the wooden truss bridge.

U.S. Bridge Thru Truss

Since its establishment, many continue to build on the truss bridge design in order to improve efficiency. Arguably the three most notorious builders that played an intricate part in the evolution of the truss design were Timothy Palmer, Louis Wernwag, and Theodore Burr.

Howe Truss Design Innovations

The Howe truss, which was licensed in 1840, attracted more builders to the truss design due to its simplicity. The combination of wood and metal in this design enabled the bridge to carry more weight. This was especially appealing during a time when railroads — and the bridges that supported them — were on the rise.

The Howe truss design is significant, as it was eventually designed to be all metal. This truss consists of vertical members that are in tension and diagonal members that are in compression.

Caleb Pratt’s popular Pratt truss design does the opposite of a Howe truss, as diagonals slope toward the center. The Pratt truss was inspired by the Howe truss, and invented four years later. By the early twentieth century, the Pratt truss and its derivations had become the most popular metal truss in the United States.

Modern Truss Bridge Designs

Although the composition of the bridge has evolved, it still keeps the same general design as the original blueprint. These modifications assemble a truss bridge ready and equipped for modern advancements.

Some of these advancements are automated welding, advanced steel fabrication methods, and the affordability of steel. There have also been significant changes to the details of the design, which for U.S. Bridge includes a double bottom cord. The double cord means there’s space for the roadway debris to fall off the bridge, ensuring that the bridge stays in better condition and requires less maintenance.

Modern Truss Bridges in America

Currently, there are many truss bridges in use today as a part of a highway system. This is due to their ability to hold so much weight with lightweight, sustainable steel. In addition, truss bridges the military often uses truss bridges.

Thanks to their design simplicity and use of lightweight steel, truss bridges are excellent contenders for prefabricated bridge construction. Accelerated bridge construction can save builders thousands of dollars and time during the installation phase.

Another benefit of modern truss bridges is their adaptability to your project and location. Truss bridges can be used for short and long-span bridges and are able to withstand extreme weather. The interconnected triangles supports a massive load-bearing capacity with decades of sustainability and minimal upkeep.

U.S. Bridge: 80 years of Building Truss Bridges

With decades of bridge-building experience, we have the knowledge and skills to create beautiful and long-lasting bridge structures for every project. Our bridges are custom-built, manufactured by our team, and delivered according to your specifications and time-frame. We also create virtual 3D models of your bridge for better visualization and accuracy.

Contact us today to learn how we can help bring your bridge to reality. Or use our Bridge Scope tool to get a free estimate of your project just by providing a few specifications.

Truss Bridge

There are several timeless designs that have been used in bridge building for decades. However, there are few more iconic than the truss bridge. In the 1800s, America was the leader in truss bridge design, though older constructions used wood. The design is vintage Americana, but it’s become modernized.

Today, truss bridges are used as an effective bridge construction option. Although one thing has changed: steel is the primary component in new truss constructions. U.S. Bridge is a leader in building modern truss bridges that will last for decades to come.

Let’s discuss why we use steel truss bridge design for many of our new constructions.

Advantages of Steel Truss Bridges

  1. Strong load-bearing capacity
  2. Effective use of materials
  3. Affordable to construct
  4. Versatile and adaptable design
  5. Professional bridge engineering

Steel Truss Bridge

First, What is a Truss Bridge?

Truss bridges are formed with a structure of connected elements that form triangular structures to make up the bridge. Trusses are the triangles that connect to the top and bottom cord and two end posts.

The trusses make up reinforcement for the bridge that even the load-bearing across the structure. Furthermore, the truss dissipates the load through the structure so the middle of the beam experiences less compression and tension. As you will see later, there are several variations of the truss, but it starts with a top and bottom cord and a series of trusses.

1. Strong Load-Bearing Capacity

Even the earliest wood truss bridges were built to distribute weight evenly. With this intention in mind, bridges could be built for larger loads. Overall, this makes this bridge design a very strong and dependable option. With steel construction, truss bridges can take on the traffic of today.

2. Effective Use of Materials

What makes truss bridges relevant more today than ever is their effective use of materials. Keep in mind, less materials means easier construction and less money spent. Already, our bridge construction uses recycled steel that is lightweight and has been certified for Bridge Fabrication — Advanced (Major) by the AISC.

In fact, each piece is constructed with a definite purpose for truss bridge construction. This way, the construction and use of each steel piece are perfect for the bridge.

3. Affordable To Construct

Because of the simplicity of truss bridge designs, they are often a great fit for accelerated bridge construction. In order to improve construction time, each steel piece can be quickly pieced together.

If considering the full cost of material and labor, truss bridges save builders thousands of dollars. Not to mention the long-term savings from building a long-lasting, durable bridge from U.S. Bridge.

4. Versatile and Adaptable Design

While truss bridges are great for short spans, what makes them versatile is their ability to go long distances and still support large loads. With the polygonal design of the truss, it’s possible to cover long distances. Even at U.S. Bridge, we have several options to fit the bridge construction you’re looking for.

In particular, truss bridges can be needed in areas with extreme weather. Despite the harsh weather, with great structural engineering, our truss bridges are prepared to last even the worst storms for decades to come. When it comes to crossing a treacherous area, truss bridges can be built to keep communities connected.

5. Professional Bridge Engineering

While a truss bridge may seem simple, they are actually quite intricate and require complex engineering and design. Because the weight must be distributed away from the center beam, each truss must be optimally engineered to distribute the weight. Without attention to detail in the engineering design, the truss design will not be nearly as effective.

Bridges are very dynamic, but at U.S. Bridge, we can guarantee the highest-quality engineering that fits the environmental components of the build location.

The U.S. Bridge Steel Truss Bridge Designs

Several of our U.S. Bridge designs use steel trusses for optimal strength and durability. However, every truss bridge is different. Here are just a few of the truss constructions we’ve done in the past.

Pratt Truss — Liberty, Viking, Seneca, Voyager

Warren Truss — Cambridge, Cambridge Flat

Box Truss — Thru Truss

Experts in Truss Bridge Construction

When you invest in a U.S. Bridge, you can rest assured you’re investing in experts in truss bridges. We’ve been building long-lasting steel bridges for decades. We regard every detail of your bridge with a high level of attention and efficiency to ensure it’s high-quality.

If you’d like to know more about our bridge construction projects and have any questions about a project, please contact us today and get a free quote.