What is a beam bridge? (with photos)

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana is a girder bridge that is one of the longest in the world.

A girder bridge, sometimes called a girder bridge, is a rigid structure consisting of a horizontal beam supported at each end, usually by some type of pier or pier. Structurally, it is the simplest type of bridge and is a popular choice because of its cheap construction costs. It started as a felled log supported by opposing river banks that was used to cross a river or other body of water. Today, it is commonly made from reinforced concrete or steel beams for everything from pedestrian bridges to highway viaducts.

A girder bridge requires pillars to remain stable.

This type of bridge works on the principles of compression and tension, so a strong beam is needed to resist twisting and bending under the weight it must support. When a load – such as a group of moving cars – pushes down on the beam, the weight of the beam pushes down on the pillars. The upper edge of the beam is joined as a result of compression and the tension causes the lower edge to stretch and elongate. This works in the same way that a wooden plank supported by blocks at each end can only support a certain amount of weight before it bends. The top reaches maximum compression and the bottom breaks under too much tension.

Cantilever truss bridges are designed to withstand heavy loads such as constant car traffic.

Many girder bridges used in road construction are made of concrete and steel because these materials are strong enough to withstand compressive and tensile forces. The distance a beam can travel is directly related to its height, as taller beams offer more material to dissipate stress. To create taller beams, trusses can be added for reinforcement. A truss is a truss construction that supports a beam, creating rigidity and increasing the beam’s ability to dissipate compression and stress. This technique only works to a point, because eventually the weight of the bridge and trusses will be too heavy to bear.

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Despite reinforcements such as concrete, steel and trusses, the biggest limitation of this type of bridge is still its length, so they rarely measure more than 250 feet (76.2 m). Longer distances can be achieved by bridge sections chained together to create a continuous span. One of the longest bridges in the world is a continuous span girder bridge that was created this way. Located in Louisiana, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is a pair of parallel bridges that measure nearly 24 miles (38.5 km) in length and are supported by 9,500 concrete piles.

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