Components of Bridge | Parts of a Bridge | Bridge Elements

What Is a Bridge?

A Bridge is a structure for carrying road traffic or other moving loads over a deep valley or obstruction such as a river, channel, road, or railway. In Prehistoric times the first bridges were made by spanning the small streams with the help of fallen trees or togs of wood.

There are various components of a bridge such as Abutments, Piers, Wing Walls, Beams, girders, Bearing, Arch, Cables, Approaches, etc.

Importance of Bridge

  1. Road or railway traffic can run uninterrupted during monsoon
  2. Saving time and fuel.
  3. It improves the aesthetic of a road.
  4. Distance between two places can be reduced.
  5. Agriculture products, industrial products, and raw materials can reach the industries quickly which helps in the economic development of the area.
  6. Construction of a bridge on railway alignment at level crossing reduces the number of accidents.
  7. Bridges are important from a military point of view.

Components of Bridge

The major parts of a bridge,

  1. Substructure
  2. Superstructure
  3. Adjoining structure
Bridge Components and Their Function
Bridge Components and Their Function

1. Substructure

The structure of the bridge below the level of bearings is known as the Substructure. It consists of the following.

The function of the substructure is to support the superstructure components and transmit their loads safely to the subsoil,


It is a structure mostly used for bridges and dams as a substructure at the ends of a bridge span or dam and on that superstructure is rest.

A bridge with a single span has two abutments that offer vertical and lateral support. It also plays the role of retaining walls to resist lateral movement of the earthen fill of the bridge approach

Abutment of Bridge
Abutment of Bridge

The abutment can also be defined by the structure supporting one side of an arch, or masonry used to resist the lateral forces


Piers provide intermediate support between two bridge spans. Bridge piers mainly support the bridge superstructure element and transfer the load to the foundation.

Pier must be strong to handle the horizontal as well as lateral. Piers are known as compression members of the bridge.

Wing Walls

It is one of the earth retaining structures in the bridge. They are located adjacent to the abutments and act as retaining walls.

The wing wall retains soil for abutment, roadway, and approach embankment, which can be at a right angle to the abutment or splayed at different angles.

Wing Walls In Bridge
Wing Walls

Read More: Types Of Foundations & Their Uses In Building Construction

2. Superstructure

The components of the bridge above the bearing are known as superstructures.

It consists of the following.

Beams and girders

Both have a similar function to support the roadway and prevent bending. Girder is also one type of beam support. Where loads are heavy girders are used instead of beam support.

Beam has a rectangle cross-section, whereas girders have composed of I-shaped crosssections with two load-bearing flanges and a web for stabilization.


A bearing is provided between the bridge girder and the pier cap. The main function of the bearing to allow free movement or vibration of the top superstructure and reduce effect stress to reach the bridge foundation.

Bearing in Bridge
Bearing in Bridge

Arch and Cables

Arched and Cable both have specified used. Arches are used for arch bridge construction and cable is used for suspension, cable-stayed bridges, etc. For different types of bridge construction arches and cables play a vital role.

Parapet Wall and Handrail

The parapet is one of the safety components of any bridge which prevent the vehicle from falling off where there is a drop.

It is also useful for restricting views, preventing rubbish from passing below, and acting as a noise barrier.


Its top surface of bridge roadway on vehicle travel. It is made of concrete or a bituminous road.

3. Adjoining Structures

It consists of the following:


It is structured and constructed at the starting or ending of any bridge. Its main function is to provide smooth and easy entry or exit from the bridge.

Guard Stones

They are used to restrict traffic on a particular lane or sometimes as road railing but are generally positioned to protect a specific object, such as a corner of a street or the side of a gate.

Watch Video: Components of Bridge and Their Functions



What are the three major bridge components?

The major three bridge components are Substructure (Abutments, Piers, Wing Walls) Superstructure (Beams, girders, Bearing, Arch, Cables, Parapet wall, handrail, Flooring) Adjoining structure (Approaches, Guard Stones)

What is the substructure of the bridge?

Substructure components of a bridge below the level of bearings are known as Substructure. It consists of the following.

Parts of A Bridge

The following are major bridge parts,
1. Abutments
2. Piers
3. Wing Walls
4. Beam & Girders
5. Bearing
6. Arch & Cables
7. Parapet Wall and Handrail
8. Flooring
9. Approaches
10. Guard Stones

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