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The potential for steel to benefit our community through fit-for-purpose, cost-effective new, replacement and renewal programmes for steel bridge construction is unquestionable.

Steel bridges are widely used around the world in different structural forms with different span length, such as highway bridges, railway bridges, and footbridges. The main advantages of structural steel over other construction materials are its strength, ductility, easy fabrication, and rapid construction. It has a much higher strength in both tension and compression than concrete, and relatively good strength to cost ratio and stiffness to weight ratio. Steel is a versatile and effective material that provides efficient and sustainable solutions for bridge construction, particularly for long span bridges or bridges requiring enhanced seismic performance.


Steel brings with it a number of significant advantages for bridge design and construction, including: 

  • low superstructure weight: leading to smaller and more cost-effective foundations

  • lighter assemblies for erection: leading to smaller cranes and cheaper site costs

  • simpler site connections: typically by straightforward bolting, allowing flexible site planning, with bolting together of sub-assemblies 

  • prefabrication: taking advantage of good quality control in factory conditions and less impact by weather. The result is more reliable quality product

  • predictable maintenance costs: with known performance based on corrosion protection systems, whether paint systems or galvanizing 

  • weathering steel: an option that may result in positive whole-of-life costs for bridge structures

  • low construction depth: with depth/span ratios of 1/20 to 1/30 typically. Combines slender appearance with potential reduced costs of earthworks for approaches

  • self-supporting during construction: with prefabricated units placed in position eliminating the need for falsework and minimising congestion on the site

  • continuous construction: continuity is easily achievable with bolted or welded joints, leading to increased structural efficiency and a reduced number of bearings. This provides better appearance, improved durability and an improved running surface

  • adaptability: of appearance through taking advantage of curves and colour, leading to aesthetic gain

  • sustainability: steel’s sustainability credentials are unparalleled

  • modularity: taking advantage of steel’s flexible configuration, the same basic design can be configured to be modular and suit a number of different project sites. The replacement of small single-span bridges on our country roads network is a prime example of opportunities presented by steel 

  • visibility: all of the steel is generally visible for inspection, providing high confidence the structure is performing as intended. 

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