50+ Different Types of Bridges Based on Span, Materials, Structures, Functions, and Utility

Types of Bridges –  In this article we will explain what are the different types of bridges, what types of bridges are there, the different types of stresses to be considered while designing road bridges and culverts. We will also design the load bearing elements of through and half through type for railway bridges.

We will answer the most important question, which is frequently asked, different types of bridges and how they work, how many types of bridges are there, what are the different types of bridges, what materials are bridges made of, Which type of material should be used expensive or cheap for the formation of bridges?

These are the Most common bridge types. Types of Bridges Based/ Base on Span, Materials, Structures, Functions, and Utility.

Lets Start with bridges definition.

The Bridge, a connecting structure, creates bonding between different disconnected parts of a land, area, places, country, two banks of the ocean or parts of two countries.

A Bridge is a structural marvel which is generally used to pass any type of obstruction that can slow the life of people. From the very beginning, engineers were trying to win over nature and consequently, they have invented bridge structure which can use to overcome the mentioned natural obstacles.

There are many different types of bridges, each designed to meet specific needs and overcome different challenges. Here are some common types of bridges:

  1. Beam bridges: Also known as girder bridges, these are the simplest and most common type of bridge. They consist of a horizontal beam supported at each end by piers or abutments.
  2. Arch bridges: These bridges are characterized by their curved, arched shape. They distribute weight evenly and can span longer distances than beam bridges.
  3. Suspension bridges: These bridges feature cables suspended between two towers, with the roadway hanging from the cables. They are ideal for spanning long distances and are often used for highway and pedestrian bridges.
  4. Cable-stayed bridges: Similar to suspension bridges, cable-stayed bridges also feature cables attached to towers. However, in a cable-stayed bridge, the cables attach directly to the roadway, rather than hanging from the cables.
  5. Truss bridges: These bridges use a series of interconnected triangles to distribute weight evenly. They are often used for railroad bridges because they can support heavy loads.
  6. Cantilever bridges: These bridges feature two beams anchored at one end, with the roadway supported by a central tower. They are often used for longer spans where a suspension bridge may not be practical.
  7. Tied arch bridges: These bridges combine the arch shape of arch bridges with the suspension cables of suspension bridges, resulting in a visually striking design.
  8. Moveable bridges: These bridges can be lifted, pivoted, or swung to allow boats to pass through. Examples include drawbridges and bascule bridges.

Each type of bridge has its own advantages and limitations, and engineers must carefully consider the local environment, traffic patterns, and other factors when designing a new bridge.

50+ Different Types of Bridges Based on Span, Materials, Structures, Functions, and Utility

Colorful Sunset Over Dubai Downtown Skyscrapers And The Newly Built Tolerance Bridge As Viewed From The Dubai Water Canal

Four Types of Bridges based on Type of Super Structure

  1. Arch Bridge
  2. Girder Bridge
  3. Truss Bridge
  4. Suspension Bridge

Arch Bridge

What is Arch Bridge?

Arch Bridge Definition – Arch bridge mainly exists in compression. Utilizes an aerodynamic system with torsional rigidity. Arch bridge is curve shaped bridge, in which horizontal thrust is developed and is restrained by the abutments at each end of the bridge.

There are many types of arch bridges are there. In some cases, the arch may be under the deck slab also. You can read more about arch bridge here and arch bridge diagram can be be downloaded from previous link.

#2. Girder Bridge

What is Girder Bridge?

Girder Bridge Definition – In case of Girder Bridge, the deck slab is supported by means of girders. The girder may be of rolled steel girder or plate girder or box girder. Load coming from the deck are taken by girder and transferred them to the piers and abutments.

What is Girder? A girder is a support beam used in construction. It is the main horizontal support of a structure which supports smaller beams. Girders often have an I-beam cross section composed of two load-bearing flanges separated by a stabilizing web, but may also have a box shape, Z shape, or other forms.

#3. Truss Bridge

Truss is member consisting connected elements to form triangular units. In case of truss bridge the super structure is provided with trusses. Generally, trusses are made of steel. There are several types of trusses are available.

Bridges with truss are made by steel two force member with only tension and compression. No bending moment is allowed in this structure. Most stable structural shape for truss is triangular.

You can read more about truss bridge types here and you can also download truss bridge diagram. Click here for different types of truss bridges.

#4. Suspension Bridge

In suspension bridges, long spans can be provided which is essential in many situations. It gives freedom to the engineer to provide a long span with the help of a cable.

In case of Suspension bridge, deck slab is suspended with the help of cables and suspenders. These will give good appearance. For long span bridges, this type of suspension is suitable.

5 Types of Bridges based on Materials

  1. Timber Bridge
  2. Steel Bridge
  3. Masonry Bridge
  4. R.C.C Bridge
  5. Pre stressed concrete bridge

#1. Timber Bridge

Bridges constructed using timber are called timber bridges. These are generally constructed for short spans or as temporary bridges. They are not useful for heavy loads.

#2. Steel Bridge

Steel bridges are constructed using steel bars or trusses or steel cables. These are more durable and bear heavy loads.

#3. Masonry Bridge

Masonry Bridge constructed by using bricks or stones. These are generally constructed for short spans and in low depth canals.

Masonry is the building of structures from individual units, which are often laid in and bound together by mortar; the term masonry can also refer to the units themselves. The common materials of masonry construction are brick, building stone such as marble, granite, and limestone, cast stone, concrete block, glass block, and adobe. Masonry is generally a highly durable form of construction.

However, the materials used, the quality of the mortar and workmanship, and the pattern in which the units are assembled can substantially affect the durability of the overall masonry construction.

#4. R.C.C Bridge

R.C.C bridges are constructed using reinforced cement concrete. These are more stable and durable. They can bear heavy loads and are widely using nowadays.

#5. Pre Stressed Concrete Bridge

If concrete material is placed under compression before applying the loads, then it is called as prestressed concrete. To construct pre stressed concrete bridge, pre-stressed concrete blocks are arranged as deck slab with the help of girders. These blocks are suitable for shorter span to longer span bridges.

4 Types of Bridges based on Span

  1. Culvert Bridge
  2. Minor Bridge
  3. Major Bridge
  4. Long Span Bridge

#1. Culvert Bridge

When the bridge span length is below 6 meters then it is called as Culvert Bridge.

#2. Minor Bridge

If the bridge span length is in between 8 to 30 meters, then it is called minor bridge.

#3. Major Bridge

For major bridge, the span is generally about 30 to 120 meters.

#4. Long Span Bridge

When the span of bridge is more than 120 meters then it is termed as long span bridge.

2 Types of Bridges based on Level of Crossing

  1. Over Bridge
  2. Under Bridge

#1. Over Bridge

To pass over another route (railway or highway), a bridge is constructed to allow traffic. This is called over bridge or fly over bridge.

An overpass (called an overbridge or flyover in the United Kingdom and some other Commonwealth countries) is a bridge, road, railway or similar structure that crosses over another road or railway.

An overpass and underpass together form a grade separation.

#2. Under Bridge

If over bridge is not possible, an underground type bridge is constructed to pass another route. This is called under bridge.

5 Types of Bridges based on Function

  1. Foot Bridge
  2. Highway Bridge
  3. Railway Bridge
  4. Aqueduct Bridge
  5. Road cum Railway Bridge

#1. Foot Bridge

Foot Bridge is generally constructed for humans to cross the roads or rail route or any canal by foot. Vehicles are not allowed in this bridge.

A footbridge (also a pedestrian bridge, pedestrian overpass, or pedestrian overcrossing) is a bridge designed solely for pedestrians.

While the primary meaning for a bridge is a structure which links “two points at a height above the ground”, a footbridge can also be a lower structure, such as a boardwalk, that enables pedestrians to cross wet, fragile, or marshy land.

Bridges range from stepping stones–possibly the earliest man-made structure to “bridge” water–to elaborate steel structures. Another early bridge would have been simply a fallen tree. In some cases a footbridge can be both functional and a beautiful work of art.

#2. Highway Bridge

Any bridge traversed by a highway is called Highway Bridge.

High way or road Way Bridge is used for road transportation. These are constructed over rivers or another routes to allow road way traffic. Girder type bridges are used as highway bridges over rivers or canals.

#3. Railway Bridge

Rail bridges are constructed for rail transportation. Truss type bridges are preferred for railways but how ever r.c.c bridges are also used.

#4. Aqueduct Bridge

Aqueduct bridges are nothing but water carrying bridges which are constructed to0 transport water from source to system.

#5. Road cum Railway Bridge

This type of bridge is useful for both road way and railway transport. It may be of one floor or two floors. If one floor is there then, rail and road way are arranged side by side. Otherwise roadway on top deck and railway in bottom deck is preferred.

3 Types of Bridges based on Inter Span Relation

  1. Simple Bridge
  2. Continuous Bridge
  3. Cantilever Bridge

#1. Simple Bridge

Simple bridge is like simply supported beam type which consist two supports at its ends. For shorter spans, simple bridges are suitable.

#2. Continuous Bridge

If the bridge span is very long, then we have to build more supports in between end supports. This type of bridge is termed as continuous bridge.

#3. Cantilever Bridge

Cantilever type of bridge have only supported at one end and another end is free to space. Generally, two cantilever portions are joined to make way to the vehicles or humans.

2 Types of Bridges based on Utility

  1. Temporary Bridge
  2. Permanent Bridge

#1. Temporary Bridge

During construction of dams or bridges or during floods, temporary bridges are constructed at low cost for temporary usage. These bridges are maintained at low cost. After construction of original structure temporary bridges are dismantled. Generally timber is used to construct temporary bridges.

#2. Permanent Bridge

These bridges are constructed for long term use and maintained at high level. Steel or R.C.C bridges are come under this category.

3 Types of Bridges based on Position of Floor

  1. Deck Bridge
  2. Through Bridge
  3. Semi-Through Bridge

#1. Deck Bridge

In case of Deck Bridge, super structure or floor of bridge is positioned in between the high flood level and formation level.

#2. Through Bridge (Through Arch Bridge)

In case of through bridge (Through Arch Bridge), Super structure of bridge is completely above the formation level.

#3. Semi-Through Bridge

If the super structure of bridge is partly above and partly below the formation level, then it is called as semi-through bridge.

2 Types of Bridges based on High Flood Level (HFL)

  1. Low Level Bridge
  2. High Level Bridge

#1. Low Level Bridge

The super structure of bridge is generally below high flood level. So, whenever floods occurred these are submersed in water. So, these are also called as submersible bridges. These are generally constructed for unimportant routes with low cost.

#2. High Level Bridge

High level bridge is non submersible against floods. It is well above the high flood level and constructed in important routes.

Beam Bridges

A beam bridge is one of the simplest types of bridge. A perfect example being a basic log bridge – something you may see while out on a country walk.

The deck area traditionally consists of wood plank or stone slabs (often referred to as a clapper bridge). These are supported either side by two beams running between abutments/piers.

Very often you will find other beams, positioned in between the main beams, offering additional support and stability.

The area over which people or vehicles travel will be a simple decking positioned vertically across the underlying beams. This is often referred to as a “simply supported” structure. There is no transfer of stress which you see in arch structures and other types of bridges.

Truss bridges
Cantilever bridges
Arch Bridges
Tied Arch Bridges
Suspension Bridges
Cable-stayed bridges

You can Find the answer of some simple F.A.Q.s About Types of Bridges.

What types bearing is used in the arch bridges?

Different types of long span structures other than bridges

About the Author
Er. Mukesh Kumar
Er. Mukesh Kumar is Editor in Chief and Co-Fonder at ProCivilEngineer.com Civil Engineering Website. Mukesh Kumar is a Bachelor in Civil Engineering From MIT. He has work experience in Highway Construction, Bridge Construction, Railway Steel Girder work, Under box culvert construction, Retaining wall construction. He was a lecturer in a Engineering college for more than 6 years.