Bridge: Research

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I have found a very useful website about bridges which explains the different types and what their use and certain features. LINK.

What is a bridge? A bridge could be anything as simple as a log laying across a creek. Or as sophisticated as the Golden Gate Bridge. A bridge is just something that helps us cross an obstacle, whether that be a river, ocean, swamp, canyon, or highway. At the most basic level, there are three types of bridges:

But it gets a little more complex than that. We also have truss bridges.

Somewhere the Cantilever fits in.

In addition, sometimes Cable Stayed bridges have their own category, while other times they are simply a sub-class of Suspension.

Six Bridge Types

Cable Stayed


The most simple and common type of bridge used in the real world. This type can be quite effective, even if it isn’t very beautiful. Most highway bridges fall under this category, made from I Beams and reinforced concrete.

While we’re on the subject of beams, it is worth noting the different types of beams. Beams can be made into different shapes, and used on any bridge type. The most simple is a solid square beam. Engineers figured out that a solid beam is not the most efficient, so they started using different shapes. the I shape beam is quite common, as well as the L and T beams. You might also see a hollow square shape used now and then.

While these types of beams are more efficient, something we value very highly at Garrett’s Bridges, they are also harder to make. But the reward can be worth it. You can see an example of an L Beam in the Fernbank Bridge.

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Truss bridge is a type of bridge whose main element is a truss which is a structure of connected elements that form triangular units. Truss is used because it is a very rigid structure and it transfers the load from a single point to a much wider area. Truss bridges appeared very early in the history of modern bridges and are economic to construct because they use materials efficiently.Source 

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Arch bridge is one of the most popular types of bridges, which came into use over 3000 years ago and remained in height of popularity until industrial revolution and invention of advanced materials enabled architect to create other modern bridge designs. However, even today arc bridges remain in use, and with the help of modern materials, their arches can be build on much larger scales.

The basic principle of arch bridge is its curved design, which does not push load forces straight down, but instead they are conveyed along the curve of the arch to the supports on each end. These supports (called abutments) carry the load of entire bridge and are responsible for holding the arch in the precise position unmoving position. Conveying of forces across the arch is done via central keystone on the top of the arch. Its weight pushes the surrounding rocks down and outward, making entire structure very rigid and strong.Source

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The Cantilever is a very interesting concept. It supports the weight with a counter weight on one end. This photo is perhaps the most famous for demonstrating how this type of bridge works:

The problem with using a Cantilever (as well as Suspension and Cable Stayed bridges) is that they need to be anchored down to something. Real bridges are anchored to the ground using concrete abutments. Model bridge makers do not have that option. Most model bridges need to be portable, which means you can pick them up and plop them down in another spot.Source

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Suspension bridges are some of the most beautiful structures known to mankind. Their elegant curved cables. Not only are they nice to look at, but they allow engineers to design longer spans than any other type (with the exception of Cable Stayed). Suspension bridges work by using their main cables to transfer weight from anywhere on the bridge, over the top of the towers, down to the anchor points at each end of the bridge. This is quite effective.Source

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Cable Stayed bridges are similar in concept to suspension bridges, and thus are sometimes lumped together with them. However, they differ in that there is not one continuous cable that stretches from one end of the bridge to the other. Instead, it uses its towers as a focal point with cables going down to the deck on both sides in straight lines. Unlike a suspension bridge where the main cable is not tight, the cables on a ‘Stayed bridge are very taut.Source

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Here are few images that I took, which by the looks of it I will have to re-take some of them as they’re really out of focus. I did like the design of the really tall one, even though it is not accessible by pedestrians it can still work like a bridge. I really find it interesting how sometimes there is writing being displayed ona digital screen on the side of the bridge. This made me think about a cool and unique bridge for a futuristic setting. There is also an image of spiral bridge like stairs (?) I had an idea of using this on a tower of some sort, because you wouldn’t be able to reach the top of the tower without it, so it is a bridge in a way.


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