Parts of bridge | Different types of the bridge | Abutment, Arch, Pile, Cap

In short Abutment, Arch, Pile, Cap, Truss, Barriers, etc are parts of bridge but I will tell you where they used and for what purposes. so, let’s start.

The bridge is a structure of a certain span along the road over water resources or dips way to access transportation. The design of the bridge depends upon the load requirement and purpose of construction.

It may be for pedestrians or it may be for a heavy vehicle to run over it. Generally, the span of the bridge is more than 6 meter otherwise will be called as a culvert.

Roads expand in the longitudinal direction at a certain gradient. On the way, the road has to cross a number of drain, river, lake or other depressed portion of land. Whether the depressed portion coming under the road is solved by a bridge.

In the ancient time normally timber bridge was underuse but at present this type of bridge is isolated. Nowadays concrete bridge is normally provided at any level of span with T-type section.

Parts of bridge

  • Abutment
  • Arch
  • Pile
  • Cap
  • Truss
  • Barriers
  • Beam
  • Pillar
  • Retaining wall
Parts of bridge
Parts of bridge

Before going through the detail of parts of bridge let us know a little about its types.

Different types of the bridge

Bridges are being built since the time of immemorable by our ancestors. With the technological advancement construction of bridges is also getting refined. Bridges can be classified on basis of the following.

1) On the basis of Material used.

Timber Bridge

Steel Bridge

Masonry Bridge

RCC Bridge

Pre stressed Bridge

Composite Bridge

2) On the basis of Length of Bridge

Culvert (length up to 6m)

Minor Bridge (Length up to 50m with span of 25m)

Major Bridge (Length>50m with span >25m)

Special Bridge

3) On the basis of Type of Superstructure

Arch Bridge

Suspension Bridge

Beam Bridge

Truss Bridge

Cable-stayed Bridge

 Girder Bridge

4) On the basis of Life of Bridge

Temporary Bridge

Permanent Bridge

5) On the basis of support condition

Simply Supported Bridge

Continuous Bridge

Cantilever Bridge

Balanced Cantilever Bridge

6) On the basis of Alignment

Straight Bridge

Skew Bridge

7) On the basis position of Flooring Deck

Deck Bridge

Through Bridge

Semi Through Bridge

8) On the basis of purpose



Grade Separator

Highway Bridge

Railway Bridge

Foot Bridge

Pipe Bridge

  • Beam Bridge
  • Truss bridge
  • Suspension bridge
  • Suspended bridge
  • Arch bridge
  • Cable bridge

The bridge is divided according to different purposes, uses, and materials used in it. so, i will discuss it in another article. Here i am going to show you different parts or components of the bridge.

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Different Parts of bridge

1) Abutment

Abutments are the sub structure of the bridge, located at end of the span, that transfers load from super structure to the foundation soil. Abutments are laid on hard rock.

The abutment is the element at the ends of a bridge, which provides support for the bridge. They absorb to many forces place on the bridge and act as retaining walls which prevent the Earth from the approach to the bridge from moving.

2) Arch

This is a curved structure that spans an open space. Bridge featuring arches where among the earliest large scale in construction project.

3) Pile:-

Piles are the slender structural member to transfer the load from superstructure to load bearing strata.

The Reinforced concrete post that is driven onto the ground to serve as the leg or support of the bridge. The distance piles are calculated it can be supported the rest of the structure which has been laid on the top.

4) Cap

Pile caps are the shell member casted on the top of group of the piles to distribute load uniformly.

It is providing additional support and dispersing the load to the piles below. A combination of pile and cap knew as bent.

5) Pier:

Piers are the intermediate support structure to transfer load from super structure to the foundation. Piers are supports by group of pile or pillars.

6) Truss

A truss is a structural element that is mainly used to resist or transfer the load. There is no use of truss in all types of bridges. A truss is generally used in the suspended bridge where the span of the bridge is large and heavy vehicles have to run over it.

Following are the types of truss,

  • Determinate truss:- This is a real truss, simple truss, ideal truss, perfect truss. A pin joint truss which has got just a sufficient number of members to resist the load is called a Determinate truss.
  • Indeterminate truss:- It is a deficient truss. A truss is said to be an Indeterminate truss if m is greater than 2j-3.
  • Unstable truss:- It is also called a redundant truss. A truss is said to be an unstable truss if m is less than 2j-3.

7) Barriers

sides of the bridge usually have additional barrier components such as railings, handrails and ground fixtures. It prevents the vehicles to walk through the edge of the bridge as well as people to fall suddenly at night time. Besides this, it also provides the good appearance to the bridge.

8) Beam

Beam is the horizontal member of the bridge, which transfers the load to the pillar. Beam should be strong enough to bear repeated and continuous load coming on the bridge from time to time.

9) Pillar

pillar is the vertical member of the bridge. It transfers the load coming over the bridge to the ground. It is attached with an abutment at the lower part and beam at the upper parts of bridge.

10) Retaining wall

It is the rigid wall to support soil which is situated at the bank of river and bridge to protect soil from erosion. It is made in slope type so that water will exert less hydraulic pressure on wall and remain stable during the flood. It is also constructed at the place where is the probability of landslides beside the road in hilly areas.

11) Wing wall:

Wing wall are the retaining walls at an oblige angle to the abutment. It retains earth pressure from the approaches. Wing walls can be independent or connected with abutment. They are present in either side of the abutment.

12) Suspension Cable:

These cables are used in suspension bridge and cable stayed bridge. The load from the bridge deck or any other load imposed on bridges are transformed into tension into these cables. It is main cable of the bridge which is anchorage to anchors. Suspension cable are also connected to deck by vertical member called hanger or suspender.

13) Girder:

Girder is a flexural member of the bridge connecting all the piers and abutments. It is shaped in the form of English alphabet “I” and box. It is a load bearing member of the Bridge.

So friends in this article “different parts of bridge ” remains helpfull for you.

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"Structural Engineer" with over 5 years of experience in estimation, structural design, and surveying. I am passionate about using my skills to create safe and sustainable structures. I am also a keen writer, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experiences with others.