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A Seminar Report

(USN: 4JC09EC001)
II Sem. B.E.: Electronics and Communication

As a part of
CV220: Elements of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics


MYSORE 570 006

Bridges are great symbols of mankinds conquest of space. The sight of the
Golden Gate Bridge in the Pacific Ocean, or the Rajiv Gandhi Sea-Link (BandraWorli) in Mumbai, fills ones heart with wonder and admiration for the art of their
builders. They are the enduring expressions of mankinds determination to remove all
barriers in its pursuit of a better and freer world. Their design and building schemes
are conceived in dream-like visions. But vision and determination are not enough. All
the physical forces of nature and gravity must be understood with mathematical
precision and such forces have to be resisted by manipulating the right materials in the
right pattern. This requires both the inspiration of an artist and the skill of artisan .
There are about 1,20,000 bridges of all types and spans in India and about 50% of
these bridges are more than 100 years old. Though more than 1000 bridges are rebuilt
/ rehabilitated every year, the backlog is enormous.
Old bridges are facing following types of problems:
1. Aging and fatigue consideration
2. Increased loading standards for axle load
3. Increased longitudinal loads
4. Rebuilding meter gauge bridges for broad gauge work.

Most of these problems can be overcome by using steel as the core structural
material. Steel is suitable for most span ranges, but particularly for longer spans.
Right from Rabindra setu to Bandra-Worli sea link, structural steel has been the
natural solution for long span bridges. Howrah Bridge, also known as Rabindra Setu,
is to be looked at as an early classical steel bridge in India. This engineering marvel is
still serving the nation, deriding all the myths that people have about steel. The
sweeping 5.6 km Bandra worli sea link is the latest completed steel marvel in India.
The length of steel cables used in the sea link is equivalent to the earth's
circumference. This makes it all the more important to know the advantages that steel
possesses over concrete which has made bridges like Rabindra Setu outlast other
concrete bridges.


Steel is a very versatile material having many advantages over the other material.
First cost, life-cycle costs, and environmental effects favor steel as the material of
choice for bridges. New materials, new design concepts, and a better understanding of
the trade-off between structural reliability and life-cycle costs make the next
millennium an exciting time for steel technology. In evaluating the trade-off between
structural reliability and life-cycle costs, engineers need to keep in mind the potential
advantages steel structures can offer. These include but are not limited to the

Reduced dead loads.

More economic foundations.

Shorter execution time.

Lighter weight than concrete for superstructures of comparable spans,

reducing the inertia effects induced by seismic events.

Ductility and toughness of material to allow absorption of loading well above

design values without catastrophic failures.

When constructed in insurgency affected areas like North-East and J&K and in high
seismicity areas where damage to the bridges is more likely, steel bridges provides
easier and faster options for rehabilitation. More over, structural redundancies can be
easily inbuilt in steel bridges.

In addition to the various points cited above, structural steel as the basic bridge
construction material involves several other advantages, which have also played an
important part in this shift of an engineers ideology from concrete bridge
construction to steel bridge construction and have been discussed later.


Steel bridges are classified according to
the type of traffic carried
the type of main structural system
the position of the carriage way relative to the main structural system

Classification Based On Type Of Traffic Carried

Bridges are classified as

Highway Or Road Bridges

Bridges mainly for transport of highway or heavyloaded vehicles.
Ex:Mahatma Gandhi Setu (Patna-Hajipur,across Ganges, Bihr)

Railway Or Rail Bridges

Bridges mainly for rails to cross across a river or large pits.
Ex: Pamban Bridge (Rameshwaram)

Road - Cum - Rail Bridges

These bridges offer way to both rail and small (somecases include heavy) loaded
Ex: Vivekananda setu (Howrah Kolkata) (fig 1.0)

Fig 1.0 Vivekananda setu

Important terms appearing in the study of steel bridges:
Forces acting on steel bridge(or any bridge):
(i) Dead load :

This term refers to the weight of the bridge itself. Like any other

structure, a bridge has a tendency to collapse simply because of the gravitational

forces acting on the materials of which the bridge is constructed (i.e., the wood,
concrete, steel, or aluminum)

(ii) Live load :

This term refers to traffic that moves across the bridge as well as

normal environmental factors such as changes in temperature, precipitation, and

(iii) Dynamic load: The third factor refers to environmental factors that go beyond
normal weather conditions, factors such as sudden gusts of wind and earthquakes. All
three factors must be taken into consideration in the design of a bridge.
Parts of the steel bridge:
Abutment - Heavy supporting structures usually attached to bedrock and supporting
bridge piers.
Bedrock - Portion of Earth's mantle made of solid rock on which permanent
structures can be built.
Piers - Vertical columns, usually made of reinforced concrete or some other strong
material, on which bridges rest.
Suspenders - Ropes or steel wires from which the roadway of a bridge is suspended.
Truss - A structure that consists of a number of triangles joined to each other.


Classification Based On The Main Structural System

Many different types of structural systems are used in bridges depending upon the
span, carriageway width and types of traffic. Classification, according to make up of
main load carrying system, is as follows:

(i) Girder bridges A girder is a support beam used in construction. Girders often have Ibeam cross section for strength, but may also have a box shape, Z shape or other
forms. Girder is the term used to denote the main horizontal support of a structure,
which supports smaller beams. A girder is commonly used many times in the building
of bridges.

Fig 2.0 Girder bridge

A girder bridge, in general, is a bridge built of girders placed on bridge abutments and
foundation piers. In turn, a bridge deck is built on top of the girders in order to carry
traffic. Girders combine strength with economy of materials and can therefore be
relatively light.
There are several different subtypes of girder bridges:
(a) Rolled steel girder bridge:
This type of girder bridge is made up of I beams that are rolled into the shape of a
steel mill. These are useful for spans between 10 meters and 29.5 meters. Rolled steel
girders are practically available with a web height of up to one meter.

(b) Plate girder bridge:

It is made out of mostly flat steel sections that are later welded or otherwise
fabricated into an I beam shape. In some cases plate girders may be formed in a Z
shape rather than I shape.
One distinguished advantage of plate girders over rolled steel girders is that the
web of plate girder can be taller than that of a rolled steel girder, providing greater
strength than rolled steel girders. The thickness of the top and bottom flanges of a
plate girder does not have to be constant; the thickness can be changed (typically at a
field splice) to save on material costs. Stiffeners are occasionally welded between the
compression flange and the web to increase the strength of the girder. They can be
used for spans between 10 meters and 100 meters. Cross section of a typical plate
girder is shown in figure 2.1(b.)

Fig.2.1 (b) Plate girder bridge section

(c) Box Girder Bridge:

Box girder bridges are built from steel girders in a rectangular box shape
instead of an I beam shape. A typical box girder has two webs and two flanges. Cross
section of a typical box girder is as shown in figure 2.1(c). They can be used for
continuous spans up to 250 meters.

Box girders hold an important advantage over plate and rolled steel girders. A plate
girder or rolled steel girder is simple to design and build, but works well only for
straight spans. However, if the bridge needs to be curved, the beams are subject to
twisting forces. This can be altered by building several shorter straight spans with a
curved bridge deck or by using box girders. The added second web in a box girder
adds stability and increases resistance to twisting forces.
Though box girders possess several advantages over their counterparts, building
these steel box girders is more difficult, because the welding of inner corners between
the flanges webs has to be done either by a robot or a human, depending on who can
fit inside.
Ex: Bridge of Niteroi, Rio de Janerio, Brazil.

Fig.2.1 (c) Box girder bridge section

(d) Truss girders:

A truss is a structure composed of triangular units that are connected at joints
called nodes. A truss bridge is a bridge consisting of such triangular units that are
straight in shape. Truss bridges are suitable for span range of 30 meters to 375 meters.
The cross sections of truss bridges is as shown in figure 2.1(d).
Ex: Quebec Bridge (Canada) ,The Bridge over The River Kwai, Thailand.

Fig.2.1 (d) Some of the trusses used in steel bridges

One of the advantages of truss bridges is that they can be constructed with less
material to give greater strength. Truss bridges are strong, since they are made of
triangles, which are ridged. Another advantage about truss bridges is that they can be
built in a convenient area, then placed over where it has to bridge, although this is not
always possible. That makes the truss bridge a perfect replacement to span over
railways and roads.
The disadvantage of a truss bridge is that it takes up more space and can
sometimes become a distraction to drivers. Also, a lot of materials may be wasted if
they are not designed properly i.e. there can be force members doing nothing for the

(ii)Cantilever bridge
A cantilever bridge is a bridge built using cantilevers, structures that project
horizontally into space, supported on only one end. For small footbridges, the
cantilevers may be simple beams; however, large cantilever bridges designed to
handle road or rail traffic use trusses built from structural steel, The steel truss
cantilever bridge was a major engineering breakthrough when first put into practice,
as it can span distances of over 1,500 feet (460 m), and can be more easily constructed
at difficult crossings by virtue of using little or no falsework.
Ex: Howrah Bridge, Forth Rail Bridge.

Fig2.1(e) Cantilever bridge

Building out from each end enables construction to be done with little
disruption to navigation below. The span can be greater than that of a simple beam,
because a beam can be added to the cantilever arms. Cantilever bridges are very
common over roads. Because the beam is resting simply on the arms, thermal
expansion and ground movement are fairly simple to sustain. The supports can be
simple piers, because there is no horizontal reaction. Cantilever arms are very rigid,
because of their depth.

Like beams, they maintain their shape by the opposition of large tensile and
compressive forces, as well as shear, and are therefore relatively massive. Truss
construction is used in the larger examples to reduce the weight.

(ii) Rigid frame bridges

In building construction field, rigid frame is a steel skeleton frame in which
the end connections of all members are rigid so that the angles they make with each
other do not change. A bridge using such rigid frames is called a rigid frame bridge.
In a standard girder bridge, the girder and the piers are separate structures.
However, a rigid frame bridge is one in which the piers and girder are one solid
structure. The cross section of a typical rigid frame bridge is as shown in figure 2.2
Rigid frame bridges are suitable in the span range of 25 m to 200 m.

Fig.2.2 Typical rigid frame bridge

(iii) Arch bridges

An arch bridge is a bridge with abutments at each end shaped as a curved arch.
This curved structure provides high resistance to bending forces. Arches can only be
used where the ground or foundation is solid and stable because unlike girder and
truss bridges, both ends of an arch are fixed in the horizontal direction (i.e. no
horizontal movement is allowed in the bearing). Thus when a load is placed on the
bridge (e.g. a car passes over it) horizontal forces occur in the bearings of the arch.
Steel being the most elastic material adds extra efficiency to arch bridges.
The cross sections of typical arch bridges is as shown in figure 2.3.
Ex: Sydney Harbour bridge,Sydney.


Fig.2.3 Typical arch bridges

(iv) Cable stayed bridges

A typical cable stayed bridge is a continuous girder with one or more towers
erected above piers in the middle of the span. From these towers, cables stretch down
diagonally (usually to both sides) and support the girder. Steel cables are extremely
strong but very flexible. Cables are very economical as they allow a slender and
lighter structure, which is still able to span great distances. Cable stayed bridges are
economical when the span is about 150 m to 700 m. Though only a few cables are
strong enough to support the entire bridge, their flexibility makes them weak to a
force we rarely consider: the wind
For longer span cable-stayed bridges, careful studies must be made to
guarantee the stability of the cables and the bridge in the wind. The lighter weight of
the bridge, though a disadvantage in a heavy wind, is an advantage during an
earthquake. However, should uneven settling of the foundations occur during an
earthquake or over time, the cable-stayed bridge can suffer damage so care must be
taken in planning the foundations. The modern yet simple appearance of the cablestayed bridge makes it an attractive and distinct landmark. The cross section of a
typical cable stayed bridge is as shown in figure 2.4.
Ex:Bandra-worli, Vidyasagar setu.


Fig.2. 4 Layout of cable stayed bridges

(v) Suspension bridges

A suspension bridge is a type of bridge in which the deck (the load-bearing portion) is
hung below suspension cables on vertical suspenders. The bridge deck is suspended
from cables stretched over the gap to be bridged, anchored to the ground at two ends
and passing over tall towers erected at or near the two edges of the gap. Currently, the
suspension bridge is best solution for long span bridges. Fig. 1.5 shows a typical
suspension bridge.
Ex:Akashi Kaikyo, Japan

Fig 2.5 Suspension bridges

Advantages over other bridges:

The center span of the bridge can be made very long in proportion to the amount
of materials required, allowing the bridge to economically span a very wide
waterway. Also, it can be built high over water to allow the passage of very tall ships.
Except for installation of the initial temporary cables, little or no access from below is
required during construction, for example allowing a waterway to remain open while
the bridge is built above


Disadvantages over other bridges:

Considerable stiffness or aerodynamic profiling may be required to prevent the
bridge deck vibrating under high winds. The relatively low deck stiffness compared to
other (non-suspension) types of bridges makes it more difficult to carry heavy rail
traffic where high concentrated live loads occur.

Classification Based On The Position Of Carriageway

The bridges may be of the "deck type", "through type" or "semi-through type". These
are described below with respect to truss bridges:

(i) Deck type bridge

The carriageway rests on the top of the main load carrying members. In the deck type
plate Girder Bridge, the roadway or railway is placed on the top flanges. In the deck
type truss Girder Bridge, the roadway or railway is placed at the top chord level as
shown in Fig. 3.1(a).

Fig.3.1 Typical deck, through and semi-through type truss bridges


(ii) Through type bridge

The Through Truss bridge consists of two side trusses connected across the top
and bottom. Trains drive through the box formed by the members.
Steel trusses were created from riveted iron plates and bars that create straight
truss members. The stick-like members are connected together at the joints so that
they form triangular and then rectangular shaped sections. This diagonal webbing
effect gives the complete truss its strength to carry the heavy locomotives with a
minimum amount of steel.
The carriageway rests at the bottom level of the main load carrying members
[Fig. 3.1(b)]. In the through type plate girder bridge, the roadway or railway is placed
at the level of bottom flanges. In the through type truss girder bridge, the roadway or
railway is placed at the bottom chord level. The bracing of the top flange or lateral
support of the top chord under compression is also required.

(iii) Semi through type bridge

The deck lies in between the top and the bottom of the main load carrying
members. The bracing of the top flange or top chord under compression is not done
and part of the load carrying system project above the floor level as shown in Fig.
3.1(c). The lateral restraint in the system is obtained usually by the U-frame action of
the verticals and cross beam acting together.

The normal span range of different bridges is as shown below(fig 4.0)



Steel used for building bridges and structures contains:
(1) Iron
(2) A small percentage of carbon and manganese
(3) Impurities that cannot be fully removed from the ore, namely sulphur and
(4) Some alloying elements that are added in very small quantities to improve
the properties of the finished product, namely copper, silicon, nickel,
Chromium, molybdenum, vanadium, columbium and zirconium.
The strength of the steel increases as the carbon content increases, but some
other properties like ductility and weldability decreases. Sulphur and phosphorus have
undesirable effects and hence their maximum amount is controlled. Steel used
for building bridges may be grouped into the following three categories:

(1) Carbon Steels only manganese, and sometimes a trace of copper and
silicon, are used as alloying elements. This is the cheapest steel available for
structural uses where rigidity rather than strength is important. It comes with yield
stress up to 275 N/mm2 and can be easily welded.

(2) High-Strength Steels these cover steels of a wide variety with yield stress
in the range of 300 to 390 N/mm2. They derive their higher strength and other
required properties from the addition of alloying elements.

(3) Heat-Treated Carbon Steels these are the steels with the highest
strength, and still retain all the other properties that are essential for building bridges.
They derive their enhanced strength from some form of heat treatment after rolling,
namely normalization or quenching-and-tempering.

(4) Weathering Steel this variety of steel is produced with enhanced resistance
to atmospheric corrosion and these can be left unpainted in appropriate situations.



An efficient bridge design balances the two fundamental rules of structural behavior
and economy. Steel bridge concepts should maximize structural efficiency by reducing
the amount of material and the number of components without compromising safety,
serviceability, or constructibility of the structure. Simplicity and ease of fabrication are
still paramount to cost effective steel bridge constructions. One of the benefits of a
properly conceived and executed bridge design is aesthetics. When structures have a
clearly defined load path and members are correctly proportioned, they will be both
cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing.


High Strength To Weight Ratio
One of the biggest advantages of steel is weight savings, which means lower erection
costs, since the bridge pieces can be handled with lighter equipment. High strength to
weight ratio of steel minimizes substructure costs. In addition, it facilitates very
shallow construction depths, which overcome problems with headroom and flood
clearances, and minimises the length of approach ramps.

High Quality Material

Steel is a high quality material, which is readily available world wide in various
certified grades, shapes and sizes. Prefabrication in controlled shop condition leads to
high quality work at minimum cost. The quality control extends from the material
itself and follows on through the processes of cutting, drilling, welding and fit-up. The
total weight of steel constructions is a fraction of the total weight of concrete bridges.
Also, steel has compressive and tensile strengths of 370 N/mm2, about ten times the
compressive strength of a medium concrete and a hundred times its tensile strength.
Therefore steel bridges can be used with long spans, even in earthquake-prone areas.


Speed of Construction
The prefabrication of the components means that construction time on site in hostile
environment is minimized. The speed of steel bridge construction reduces the
durations of rail possessions and road closures, which minimises disruption to the
public using those networks. The lightweight nature of steel permits the erection of
large components. Besides this, resource, such as water, aggregates etc may
sometimes not be easily available at sites on this project, for the purpose of
production of concrete.

Steel suits a wide range of construction methods and sequences. Installation may be
by cranes, launching, slide-in-techniques or transporters. Steel gives the engineer
flexibility in terms of erection sequence and programme. Components can be sized
to suit access restriction at site, and once erected the steel girders provide a platform
for subsequent operations.

Steel is the most environmentally friendly material used in bridge construction. A
principal ingredient of the raw material for steel bridges is scrap steel. Steel is a
sustainable material. When a steel bridge reaches the end of its useful life, the
girders can be cut into manageable sizes to facilitate demolition, and returned to
steelworks for recycling. The increased emphasis of the green techniques for
construction, steel is lot Greener than concrete for bridges.

Repair & Rehabilitation

Steel bridges can readily be repaired after accidental damages. In case of damage to
the bridge due to derailment/accident, damage due to a terrorist activity or damage
due to natural causes such as earthquakes, floods etc. complete steel spans can be
replaced without much delay which is not the case with PSC super structures. This
aspect is very important in the case of Railways where longer disruption to rail traffic
can not be afforded.


Steel has broad architectural possibilities. Steel bridges can be made to look light or
heavy, and can be sculptured to any shape or form. The high surface quality of steel
creates clean sharp lines and allows attention to detail. Modern fabrication methods
have removed restrictions on curvature in both plan and elevation. The painting of
steelwork introduces colour and contrast, and repainting can change or refresh the
appearance of the bridge to appear as new.

Steel bridges now have a proven life span extending to well over 100 years. In fact,
old steel girders of vintage 1854 etc are also in use on branch lines. Steel has a
predictable life, as the structural elements are visible and accessible. Any signs of
deterioration are readily apparent, without the need for extensive investigations.
Corrosion is a problem requiring major maintenance.
The potential durability of steel may be summarized in the following quote by a
Mr. J.A.Waddell in 1921:

The life of a steel bridge that is scientifically designed, honestly and

carefully built, and not seriously overloaded, if properly maintained,
is indefinitely long.
The normal steel, though has a lot of advantages over concrete, has several
areas which can be improved upon. Over the last decade, taking the limitations of
conventional steel into account a new grade of steel, known as high performance
steel has been developed.

All steels possess a combination of properties that determine how well steel
performs its intended function. Strength, weldability, toughness, ductility, corrosion
resistance, and formability are all important to determine how well a steel performs.
High-performance steel (HPS) can be defined as having an optimized balance of
these properties to give maximum performance in bridge structures while remaining


Properties Of High Performance Steel

The high strength of HPS comes from heat treatment and rolling processes
during manufacture rather than from carbon content. HPS contains low levels of
carbon, making it easy to weld under a variety of conditions.
Weathering Capability:
Included in this development are HPS formulations with weathering
capability that add savings in life cycle costs. These specials grades effectively resist
weather and corrosion. Naturally occurring corrosion eventually forms a protective
barrier layer (patina) on the steel that greatly reduces further access to oxygen,
moisture, and contaminants.
High strength levels in steel are usually achieved by increasing the amount of
carbon and other alloys. But high carbon levels make welding difficult, often leading
to cracking during construction or in service. To avoid cracking, fabricators and
erectors must perform carefully controlled techniques. These requirements increase
fabrication and erection costs. HPS grades, on the other hand, have been developed to
greatly improve weldability and to minimize need for pre- and post-heating.
Fracture Toughness:
High Performance Steel has much higher fracture toughness than the conventional
grades of steel used for bridge construction. HPS makes the transition from brittle to
ductile at a much lower temperature than conventional grades. So HPS improves
reliability by minimizing the chance of sudden brittle failure. This property provides
more time for inspectors to detect and repair any fatigue cracks that might develop
before the structure becomes unsafe.

Standard shop practices of girders of High Performance Steel may require some
modification for drilling, reaming, and mill scale removal. For HPS 70W, drill bits
and reamers will dull quickly unless the worked area is flooded with


lubricants. To remove mill scale, abrasive blasting is the preferred method. Grinding
mill scale from HPS grades has proved difficult.

Bridges are the monuments of civil engineering profession. Bridges generally
outlive their designers and provide a visual testimonial to the skill and ingenuity of
their engineers and builders. Steel structures are poised for a dramatic resurgence,
given the opportunities available with recent research and the development of HPS for
innovative, cost-effective, and pleasing steel structures.
It is concluding that the High Performance Steel is being used on highway and
railway bridges successfully all over the world because of its inherent quality of better
strength, resistance against fracture toughness, weldability and a very good resistance
against weathering / corrosion. The weight of the structure is reduced tremendously
reducing the cost of substructure and foundations and over all reduced life cycle costs.
Its introduction on Indian railways will be a very good decision for the upgradation
of the present technology of design, fabrication and maintenance of steel bridges. It
will not be long before much of today's concrete bridge infrastructure will have to be
replaced, and properly designed steel bridges will all have their place.

Chatterjee, S., The Design of Modern Steel Bridges, first edition, BSP professional
McCormac, Jack., Structural steel design, fourth edition.
Owens, G.W., Knowles, P.R., & Dowling, P.J. (1994): Steel Designers' Manual, Fifth
edition, Blackwell Scientific Publications.