Bridges are essential structures that provide a means of crossing physical barriers such as rivers, canyons, and valleys. Throughout history, engineers and architects have developed various types of bridges to suit different needs and environments.
These bridges differ in design, construction, and materials used. Understanding the various bridge types is important to appreciate the engineering feats that go into their construction and to select the appropriate type of bridge for a particular application.
In this context, this article will introduce and briefly describe different types of bridges commonly used around the world.
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Different Types of Bridges
There are various types of bridges, each with its own unique design and purpose based on various parameters,
1. Based on Material
- Timber Bridge
- Stone Masonry Bridge
- RCC Bridge
- Steel Bridge
- Pre-stress Bridge
- Composite Bridge
2. As per alignment
- Straight Alignment
- Skew Bridge
3. As per the location of the bridges
- Deck Bridge
- Through Bridge
- Semi-Through Bridge
4. Based on Purpose
- Vi -aqueduct
- Highway Bridge
- Railway Bridge
- Foot Bridge
- Pipe Bridge
5. According to a type of superstructure
- Suspension Bridge Slab Bridge
- Cable-stayed bridge
6. According to High Flood Level
- Submersible Bridge or Causeway
- Non – Submersible Bridge
7. According to a type of span
- Simply Supported Bridge
- Continuous Bridge
- Cantilever Bridge
- Balanced – Cantilever Bridge
8. According to span length
- Minor bridge
- Major bridge
- Long-span bridge
9. According to navigation facilities
- Swing Bridge
- Bascule Bridge
- Transverse Bridge
- Lift Bridge
10. According to the loading
1. Temporary bridge
- a. pontoon bridge- KUMBH MELA
- b. boat bridge: Kolkata-RABINDRANATH SETU
- c. flying bridge- West India Quay London, UK
2. Permanent bridge
- RCC bridge
- Masonry bridges –Rajasthan
- Steel bridges: Surat Tapti river
11. According to Life of Bridges
- Class AA bridge – Narmada Cable Bridge
- Class A bridge
- Class B Bridge
12. Method of connections.
- Pin joint connection Bridge
- Riveted joint bridge
- Welded type bridge
13. According to a degree of redundancy
- Determinate type
- Indeterminate type
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1. Classification of the Bridge According to Material
Bridges are constructed using timber materials are called timber bridges. These types of bridges are constructed for short spans.
Also for a temporary purpose. Timber bridges are not sufficient for heavy loading. It is designed for pedestrians, low weight transport.
These are constructed where timber is easily available. Nowadays not used Timber Bridge.
In the Masonry Bridge stones and bricks are used as construction materials. Masonry bridges are durable as compare to Timber Bridge. It is suitable for a shorter span.
Steel bridges are constructed using steel cables or bars. Steel bridges are more durable as compare to Timber Bridge. They can also carry a heavy load and are suitable for a long span. Steel bridges are built for many projects like railways, highways, for supporting gas lines, pipelines, oil lines, etc.
In RCC Bridge, Reinforced concrete is used as a construction material. This type of bridge is more stable and durable. It is suitable for long-span as well as heavily loaded traffic. Nowadays RCC-type bridges are widely used. It is generally used for constructing fly-over and highway bridges.
Pre-stressed Concrete Bridge
Prestressed concrete is placed under compression before applying the loads. The construction of a prestressed bridge deck slab is made with the use of concrete blocks.
This type of bridge is suitable for short to long spans. The pre-stressed concrete bridge is having a heavy load-carrying capacity. A pre-stressed concrete bridge is requiring high tensile steel, which is more expensive than ordinary mild steel.
The bridges constructed by the combinations of more than one or two construction materials are known as Composite bridges.
Pre – Stress Bridge is one of the best examples of composite material because Prestress girder overlaying the RCC deck slab. In RCC slab and Girder are two different kinds of materials.
2. Classification of the Bridge According to Purpose
An aqueduct is a structure, which is used to transport water from one place to another place over an obstacle.
Pedestrian Bridge (Or) Foot Bridge
The Pedestrian Bridge is a bridge that is used for only pedestrians. To pass over one place to another place or to pass over an obstacle.
Only bicycle is permitted on the pedestrian bridge.
Railway Bridge is used for the movement of trains over an obstacle. In that case, Steel Bridges are widely used.
Pipe bridges are used for supporting the pipeline on the deck slab of the bridge. Pipeline Such as oil, gas, water, communication cables, etc.
Pipe Bridges include walkways that are utilized only during the maintenance of the bridge. Also, public movement is restricted on this walkway.
3. Classification of the Bridge According to Span
In Culvert bridge the bridge span length is below 6 meters.
In Minor Bridge, the bridge span length is between 8 to 30 meters.
In a major bridge, the bridge span length is between 30 to 120 meters.
Long Span Bridge
When the span length of the bridge is more than 120 meters then it is known as a long-span bridge.
Road cum Railway Bridge
This bridge is useful for both purposes such as road transport and railway transport. These types of bridges are maybe one floor or two floors.
If one floor is there then, the roadway and railway are arranged side by side. Otherwise, the railway on the bottom deck and the roadway on the top decks are preferred.
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4. Classification of the Bridge According to a Type of Span
Simply Supported Bridge
Simply Supported Bridge acts as a simply supported beam. In that case, the bridge slab is simply supported at both ends.
A simply supported bridge is suitable for shorter spans.
In a continuous bridge, the length of the bridge is very large then we have built more support in between the end supports.
It is suitable for large spans.
A cantilevered bridge is similar to a cantilever beam. They have only one support at the end and another end of support is free.
Balanced cantilevered bridge.
In a cantilever bridge, two cantilever portions are joined together for the movement of vehicles and humans.
A balanced cantilevered bridge is used for the span range is 35 to 60 m. these also consist of a span simply supported over cantilevers.
5. Classification of the Bridge According to Loading
A temporary Bridge as the name suggests it is used for a short period or Temporary .during the construction of dams, bridges and during floods, temporary bridges are constructed.
These bridges are low-cost bridges. After the construction of the original structure, these temporary bridges are dismantled.
For example, during a flood temporary bridge is used after that it is dismantled. Timber Bridge is used for a temporary purpose.
These bridges are constructed for long-term or permanent purposes. Permanent bridge construction and maintenance costs are high as compare to the temporary bridge.
RCC bridges and steel bridges are widely used as permanent bridges.
Classification of the Bridge According to Location
In this type of Deck Bridge, the floor of the bridge is provided at the top of the superstructure.
Also, the deck slab is lies between the Formation level and High Flood Level.
This Bridge Superstructure is completely above the formation level. But the deck slab is providing at the bottom of the superstructure.
In Semi through Bridge, the superstructure is partially below and partially above the formation level.
Also, the deck slab or floor level is providing in the intermediate level of the superstructure.
6. Classification of Bridges According to High Flood Level (HFL)
- Low-level bridge
- High-level bridge
Low-Level Bridge (or) Submersible Bridge
In a Low-level bridge, the superstructure of the bridge is completely below the water body. So, the bridge deck will be submerged in water during periods of high floods.
These bridges become unusable during periods of heavy rain. These types of bridges are constructed in unimportant routes with low cost.
It is also known as a submersible bridge. Causeway is one type of submersible bridge.
A high-level bridge is also known as a non-submersible bridge.
A High-level bridge superstructure of the bridge is completely above the HFL of the canal, river, or stream. Also, this is constructed on important routes.
7. Classification of the Bridge According to Alignment
A straight bridge is a bridge whose alignment is perpendicular to the centerline of the obstacles such as a river or stream, canal, railway, roadway, etc.
In a skew bridge, the alignment of the bridge is not perpendicular to the obstacle.
8. Classification of the Bridge According To A Level of Crossing
Over Bridge (or) Flyover
Overbridge as the name suggests which is constructed over the existing route.
The existing route may be either a roadway or railway.
In the existing route of the tunnels are passing is called an underpass.
At the time of construction of the tunnel, several important things are kept in mind are as follows,
- Vertical clearance for heavily loaded
- Vehicles, drainage facilities,
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9. Classification of Bridge According to a Type of Superstructure
In a suspension bridge, the cables support the deck slab of the bridge and these cables are attached to the suspenders.
Suspenders are curved cables that are running on the full length of the bridge and on either side of the bridge.
These suspenders are connecting with the two towers at the end of the bridge. In earlier times suspensions were made from ropes and nowadays we are used steel as suspenders.
Also, the suspension bridges are suitable for a lightweight, long span and forest training purposes. The suspension bridge gives good aesthetics.
The following subtypes are given below
- Simple suspension bridge
- Stressed ribbon bridge
- Under span suspension bridge
- suspension bridge
- Self-anchored suspension bridge.
A cable-stayed bridge is similar to a suspension bridge. The only difference is they have more heavy cable and vertical towers. So that It can hold a much heavy load.
This vertical tower is known as a pylon. The height of the pylon is much greater as compared to a suspension bridge. Also, it is more durable and stronger.
In cable-stayed bridge cables are connected with the tower follows two designs,
- Fan Design
- Harp Design
10. Classification of the Bridge According to Navigation Facilities
A swing bridge is a type of bridge that can be rotated horizontally with respect to vertical support. These vertical supports provide at the center of the span.
The supports The rotation of the bridge deck mainly enables the movement of ships or vehicles to pass through them.
In Bascule Bridge the bridge deck slab is lifted its upward direction for the movement of ships. For stability purposes, provide a counterweight at the end of the bridge span.
These bridge can lift its deck upward for the movement of ships.
Traverse Bridge (or) Draw Bridge
In Transverse Bridge the deck slab moves over the rollers or wheels. These bridge deck slab can be moved away or towards the river or any water body and the extended part of the bridge serve as a cantilever.
In the lift bridge, the deck slab of the bridge moves up and down. it is the main purpose is the movement of the ship from one place to another place vertically.
The Longest Bridge in the World
1. The Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge, China. 164km.
2. Changhua–Kaohsiung Viaduct, Taiwan. 157km.
3. Cangde Grand Bridge, China. 116km.
4. Tianjin Grand Bridge, China. 113km.
5. Weinan Weihe Grand Bridge, China. 79km.
6. Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge
What is a beam bridge?
A beam bridge is a type of bridge that consists of a horizontal beam supported at each end by piers.
What is a truss bridge?
A truss bridge is a type of bridge that consists of a series of interconnected triangles that distribute weight evenly across the structure.
What is a cable-stayed bridge?
A cable-stayed bridge is a type of bridge that uses cables attached to tall towers to support the weight of the bridge.
What is a cantilever bridge?
A cantilever bridge is a type of bridge that uses a structure that extends out from each side of the support piers, creating a platform for the bridge to span.
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