More bridges are built using concrete than any other material worldwide, demonstrating continued confidence in the material’s performance and durability. Concrete bridges have a clear track record of flexibility and versatility in terms both of final forms and methods of construction that is hard to match.
Durability, aesthetics, economic solutions, simplified construction and rapid deployment techniques all contribute to making concrete the best construction material for any bridge project, whatever the size, form or intended use. Greater construction flexibility can be realised through the many forms of concrete easily available nationwide, making concrete an adaptable resource suitable for deployment for even the most challenging of bridge types or construction sites.
Benefits of concrete bridges
Function and elegance
The range of structural forms achievable with concrete is limited only by designers’ imagination, enabling the creation of elegant bridge structures that blend seamlessly with natural surroundings. Concrete unites both function and elegance in safe, robust structures, regardless of scale. Architectural surface finishes can add to visual impacts while at the same time eliminating the need for cladding, painting and ongoing maintenance activities.
Concrete is ideally suited to exposure to aggressive environmental conditions, meaning achievable service lives of 120 years or more. Well designed and constructed concrete bridges require only minimum maintenance to keep them in good working condition.
Concrete’s versatility enables the cost-effective delivery of a wide range of structural forms and associated spans. For instance, solutions including concrete arches, slab decks, beam bridges, box girder, cable stayed, stressed ribbon and inclined frames offer spans ranging from 5m to in excess of 400m.
Speed and buildability
Adequate pre-planning, precasting of elements and the use of appropriate technology in design and construction can make concrete the cheapest and fastest material for constructing durable, quality bridges. Techniques such as sliding, launching, jacking or modular construction make concrete bridge solutions quick and competitive.
Concrete as a locally-sourced material with low environmental and social impacts, it lends itself to structures with a typical design life of at least 100 years with low maintenance requirements, thereby providing a sustainable solution for bridge construction. Furthermore, up to 95 per cent of concrete and reinforcement used in bridges is recyclable at the end of its viable use.
Competitive initial construction costs, coupled with reduced inspection and maintenance, means concrete’s cost efficiency is very attractive in the long-term.
For more information on the benefits of concrete bridges, download Concrete Bridges from the Publications Library.
Concrete bridges come in all shapes and sizes, see Bridge types.
For more information on concrete bridges, visit www.cbdg.org.uk.
For more information on Eurocode 2 for bridges please visit this page.