Concrete Bridge Construction
Concrete bridge construction plays a role in virtually every type of bridge construction to some degree. Some types of bridges are almost entirely concrete-based, while others use small amounts where the strength of concrete is needed.
Beam bridges, one of the simplest types of bridges in use today, are frequent examples of concrete bridge construction. Beam bridges consist of one horizontal beam with at least one support on each end, and possibly one or two more in the middle of the beam. Beam bridges are commonly used for pedestrian traffic.
Concrete bridge construction is also a major factor in the successful building of cantilever bridges, which can be large structures carrying heavy traffic. The concrete can be used not only for the supports below the bridge, but, in some cases, as the cantilevers themselves. Arch bridges, which is one of the oldest bridge designs in human history, now uses concrete abutments at each end of the curved arches below the roadway. The arches transfer the loads of the bridge onto the abutments, where the concrete absorbs it. In some cases, the remainder of the bridge is also made of concrete.
Modern suspension bridges are not normally considered to be examples of concrete bridge construction, as they are primarily made of steel and steel wire. But the bridges would not be able to be built without the use of concrete. The very bases of the columns reaching down are locked into place in a concrete pad, which adds the necessary stability for this design to be successful.
Concrete box girders or columns are put to use in cable-stayed bridge construction. Though the steel cables help hold a great deal of the load, the girders and columns provide necessary support. In most cases, concrete is the material of choice for the column that rises above the roadway to serve as the stationary point for the steel cables that drop down and help to hold the bridge in place.
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