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Types Of Bridges

Updated on October 24, 2011

A bridge is a structure which is built to link two areas of land over an obstacle such as a valley or a body of water like rivers, lakes and oceans.

The basic idea of a bridge is to reduce the distance between two pieces of lands that are separated by an obstacle. It can be anything, from a piece of log to a highly modified man made structure, its basic purpose is to link two areas.

The concept of bridges is not new. For centuries men have been building these structures above water and valleys. These bridges were simple and made of wood, rock or bricks.

Today the bridges have become much modified structures than before and are of various types differing in their structures and their locations. These bridges links cities are stretched over many thousand feet. Roads are also built in these bridges that allow easy travel for the people.

As said, there are many types of bridges; following are some common types of bridges:

A modern Beam Bridge.
A modern Beam Bridge.

Beam Bridges

A beam bridge is the simplest type of brides. It has a very simple structure and can be made of anything. It can be a simple plank of wood or a complex structure made from shallow steel beams to box girders and concrete.

Basically a beam bridge is a very simple structure which consists of a horizontal beam which can be made of anything and is supported at its ends by piers. Highway overpasses, flyovers or walkways are included in the list of bream bridges.

A simple Truss Bridge.
A simple Truss Bridge.

Truss Bridges

A truss is a structure composed of triangular units that are connected at joints and a truss bridge is a special type of bridge which makes use of this structure.

Basically a truss bridge is composed straight elements connected together with the help of pin joints. These are based on elements joined which are stressed from tension and compression. They may be made of wood and metal. These elements are pulled together by tension.

The principle on which these bridges are made is that a flat bridge is laid at the opening; it is supported on sides by horizontal and diagonal layouts which are added to each side of the bridge.

In the same horizontal and diagonal pattern, a construction is also built above the flat layout to support the bridge from above. This is done so that when weight is applied, all of the parts of the bridge hold together. This allows the bridge to bear and support any weight.

Truss brides are the oldest type of modern bridges and are also very common.

A stone Arch Bridge.
A stone Arch Bridge.

Arch Bridges

Arch bridges are very old and have been built by man for thousands of years. As the name suggests these bridges are arch shaped.

To be precise they have a flat beam at top below which is an arch shaped structure supported at both the ends which bear all the weight. In past they were made of stones or bricks but today are built of steel and concrete.

Sydney Harbour Bridge is and arch bridge made of steel.
Sydney Harbour Bridge is and arch bridge made of steel.
The Golden Gate Suspension Bridge.
The Golden Gate Suspension Bridge.
Roeblings Suspension Bridge.
Roeblings Suspension Bridge.

To define its structure we may say that an arch bridge is a semicircular structure with supports known as the abutments on each end.

Due to the fact that it has a semicircular structure the weight is transferred to the abutments.

Arch bridges are in constant compression the force of which is pushed outward along the curve of the arch toward the abutments.

Suspension Bridges

A suspension bridge is a type of bridge which is suspended from cables above the water paths.

These bridges are one of the oldest types and were initially built of rope and wood.

The suspension bridges of today are expensive complex structures consisting of high tensile cables on which these bridges are hung.

They are usually light, and strong, suspension bridges can span over the distances of 2,000 to 7,000 feet. So they are the longest type of bridges.

The cables on which the suspension bridges are hung are made of steel and are imbedded in the anchorage of either solid rock or huge concrete blocks.

The weight on the bridge is transferred to the cables which are spread over a large area inside their anchorage so that the load is evenly distributed and the cables cannot break free.


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      prada 5 years ago

      it helped me so much

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      deepu 5 years ago

      Was nice

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      hero 6 years ago

      this will help me with a sience project too!

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      ashna sambhar 6 years ago

      nice pic!

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      commenter 6 years ago

      what about cable stay bridges!?!?!?!?

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      mr fish 6 years ago


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      red rose 6 years ago

      this will help me for my paper

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      this is so great for science fair!!!!!! likeOMGGGGGG

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      really helpful with my project and so are your other pages

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      i love this page its very helpful

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      hifras 6 years ago

      thank u for the article

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      hi 6 years ago

      perfect for my sciance fair projet ty!

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      emma 6 years ago


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      Vangor7 7 years ago from Texas

      I have always been fascinated with the engineering that goes into bridges. Great article!

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      a person 7 years ago

      this is very helpful helps with every thing

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      a person 7 years ago

      this helps with sciences fair..

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      William Kovacic 7 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      A lot of interesting information. Thank you.