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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.

Bridge Engineering

No one wants to make something twice. That’s why it’s so important to build it to perfection the first time, especially if it’s something time-consuming and expensive such as a bridge. With extensive experience in bridge engineering, bridge construction can be effortless and efficient.

At U.S. Bridge, we’ve been engineering and building bridges for over 80 years. Here’s how our bridge engineering process leads to seamless bridge construction.

The Bridge Engineering Process

Understanding the Problem

There are several different reasons to build a bridge. It could be to connect communities or provide a secure commerce route for heavy trucks. Regardless, the first step for the bridge design team is to understand why the bridge is being built. What problem is it meant to solve?

Once our team of engineers understands this, then they can move forward in designing a bridge that will properly address the reason for the bridge.

Understanding the problem also allows engineers to answer other questions such as where and how. It’s the first step to designing the final product.

Determining the Scope

After knowing more about the problem, our engineers create and compare different solutions to the problem. This includes analyzing what design would work best for the bridge and the pros and cons of each option. Then they also consider other factors like the weight of the materials and how the environment would affect the bridge.

We establish elements like the structural capacity, environmental impact, and constructibility of the bridge. In the final analysis, all of these factors and more are carefully considered to determine the scope of the bridge construction project.

The Actual Design Process

Once the scope of the project has been determined, then our engineers are able to begin the design process. Theories of solutions materialize as we calculate the details on elevation, span lengths, deck widths, vertical clearances, and bridge structure among other logistics.

In addition, we also create virtual models to enable our customers to visualize their project.

This is also the part where we create an initial budget analysis for our clients. These calculations are vital to the bridge design process. Budgets are how we ensure the project is ideal for the bridge owner’s needs before proceeding to the construction phase.

The Bridge Construction Process

Our various manufacturing options provide a solution for various projects and budgets. From timber bridges to prefabricated steel, we design, manufacture, and build them all. Following the decisions finalized during the design phase, we begin the construction process. Our bridge supplies are shipped worldwide and our team is present during construction to guarantee its execution.

With more than 250,000 sq ft of engineering and fabricating facilities including dedicated truss, painting, and post and tube centers, located on a 6-acre campus, we provide the highest level of quality bridge available.

Throughout the entire process, we work directly with our clients and communicate with all members of the project for an effortless process.

Perfect Bridge Engineering with U.S. Bridge

Our bridge engineering expertise makes the bridge construction and design process effortless. Save yourself time and money by partnering with an industry leader in steel bridge design and construction.

U.S. Bridge has completed more than 10,000 bridge projects and has experience working in more than 50 countries. Our team engineers and builds bridges of many different styles and sizes. All of our designs are custom-made to fit the needs of our customers.  Contact us today to receive your free quote!

Marble Cliff

U.S. Bridge recently completed our construction of a steel bridge for the Marble Cliff development in Columbus, Ohio. The steel truss bridge serves as a centerpiece for the new mixed-use development just five miles from downtown Columbus.

The weathering steel truss bridge spans 80-feet, with a 28-foot clear roadway, and two eight-foot sidewalks for pedestrians.

Marble Cliff

The Marble Cliff Development

Since the fall of 2018, we’ve worked closely with the site’s developer Thrive Companies. Together, we determined that the new development required a signature entrance.

As with every project, we collaborated with the client to decide on the elements the bridge needed. It was without question that the development deserved an aesthetically-pleasing bridge entrance match the luxury of the ongoing development.

We presented many options and ultimately landed on a weathering steel truss bridge, which included railings and a concrete floor.

The development is located on former quarry land in Columbus, Ohio. The mixed-use development of 70 acres will contain 864 housing units and 80,500 square feet of office and retail space. Specifically, the new housing is targeting professionals and young adults.

In addition, the Marble Cliff development will incorporate linked waterways, including streams and ponds, for residents to enjoy. Thus, the bridge is accessible via the waterways that kayakers and canoers can use near the Scioto River.

Marble Cliff

The Bridge Construction Process

We discussed the bridge needs with the Marble Cliff development’s on-site land contractor, developer, and consultant. After discussions about the project scope, the developers put their trust in U.S. Bridge to engineer, design, manufacture, and construct the bridge.

Once the scope was determined, we proceeded with our design of the truss bridge. We reviewed the project details carefully to ensure it met the client’s specifications and maintained U.S. Bridge’s high-quality standards. After approval and construction of the abutments, our team installed the bridge, concrete floor, and necessary railing.

Through every step of the process, we worked with Thrive Companies to meet and exceed expectations.

Without delay, we completed the bridge project on time and on budget. We are pleased to be part of this bridge project that will serve the Columbus community for generations to come. Now that the bridge is in place, the former quarry can continue to move toward its completion.

Marble Cliff

A Team Effort by U.S. Bridge

Every part of our team at U.S. Bridge touched this project. From engineering and design to steel fabricators to the construction team, our team showed what great work we can do together.

We are glad to be a part of this redevelopment, located on 70 acres near the Scioto River. By and large, this project was a great success for the U.S. Bridge team.

To learn more about why we’re the leader in steel bridge construction, get in touch with us. We’re glad to answer any questions about your bridge construction project.