Components of Bridges With Details

What Is a Bridge?

A bridge is a structure built to span a physical obstacle, such as a body of water, valley, or road, and provide passage over it.

Bridges can be made of various materials including stone, iron, steel, and concrete, and can serve different purposes, such as allowing people and vehicles to cross, carrying water or electricity, or providing access to oil or gas wells.

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 a 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 the 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 cross-sections 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 is 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 use. 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 start or end 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 railings but are generally positioned to protect a specific object, such as a corner of a street or the side of a gate.


In conclusion, the components of a bridge play a crucial role in determining its overall design, strength, and stability.

The main components of a bridge include the deck, superstructure, substructure, and foundation. The deck carries the weight of vehicles and pedestrians and is supported by the superstructure, which consists of beams, girders, and trusses.

The substructure includes piers and abutments, which support the superstructure and connect it to the foundation, which is the part of the bridge that rests on the ground and transfers the weight of the bridge to the underlying soil or rock.

The careful selection and design of these components are essential for ensuring the safety and longevity of a bridge.

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

What is the foundation of a bridge?

The foundation of a bridge is the part of the bridge that rests on the ground and transfers the weight of the bridge to the underlying soil or rock.

Why is the design of bridge components important?

The design of bridge components is important because it affects the overall strength and stability of the bridge. Proper design helps to ensure the safety and longevity of the bridge.

Can the components of a bridge be replaced if they become damaged?

Yes, the components of a bridge can be replaced if they become damaged. However, this typically requires significant time, effort, and resources.

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4 thoughts on “Components of Bridges With Details”

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  4. Very well summed up for newbies. Bridge Bearing pads made from neoprene rubbers just like sheets are an important element between pillar & slabs. It prevents friction between them thus diminishing changes of cracks.

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