Characteristics of Three Bridge Types

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Characteristics of Three Bridge Types

See a demonstration of these forces!
Important Terms: Squeezing (Compression) Compression is a force that squeezes a material together. When a material is in compression, it tends to become shorter. Stretching (Tension) Tension is a force that stretches a material apart. When a material is in tension, it tends to become longer. See a demonstration of these forces!

1. Truss Bridges Consist of vertical, lower horizontal and diagonal members Typically composed of triangular units that are connected at joints

Characteristics of Truss Bridges
The “truss” (which is usually a triangular unit) creates both a very rigid structure and one that transfers the load from a single point to a considerably wider area Truss bridges are commonly made from a series of straight, steel bars.

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Forces Acting on Truss Bridges

The larger the H/S ratio, the greater the strength
Every bar in this bridge experiences either a pushing or pulling force. The bars rarely bend.

Pros & Cons of Truss Bridges
Economical to construct Spans longer distances than beam bridges Ability to support weight relies on the strength of the joints

Also known as a “girder” bridge Simplest type of bridge
2. Beam Bridges Also known as a “girder” bridge Simplest type of bridge

Characteristics of Beam Bridges
Consists of a horizontal beam supported at each end by piers. The weight of the beam pushes straight down on the piers. The farther apart its piers, the weaker the beam becomes. This is why beam bridges rarely span more than 250 feet.

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Under load, the beam's top surface is pushed down or compressed while the bottom edge is stretched or placed under tension

When something pushes down on the beam the beam bends
When something pushes down on the beam the beam bends. Its top edge is pushed together, and its bottom edge is pulled apart.

Pros & Cons of Beam Bridges
Needs to resist twisting and bending under load Simple design: Less expensive and requires little maintenance Only suitable for short spans (about thirty to six hundred feet)

Cables are hooked on vertical suspenders that support the load
3. Suspension Bridges Cables are hooked on vertical suspenders that support the load

Characteristics of Suspension Bridges
These bridges can span 2,000 to 7,000 feet -- much farther than any other type of bridge! Most suspension bridges have a truss system beneath the roadway to resist bending and twisting.

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In all suspension bridges, the roadway hangs from massive steel cables, which are draped over two towers and secured into solid concrete blocks, called anchorages, on both ends of the bridge. Cars push down on the roadway, but because the roadway is suspended, the cables transfer the load into compression in the two towers. The two towers support most of the bridge's weight.

Pros & Cons of Suspension Bridges
Allows for longer spans than other bridge types Requires stable ground for the “anchorages” at either end May withstand earthquakes better than other bridge types Aesthetically more beautiful than other two types of bridge

Lots of bridge photos on the quiz link