eSPAN140 Most Frequently Asked Questions

What is eSPAN140? 
eSPAN140 is a new, innovative, interactive web-based preliminary design tool to assist bridge professionals in the optimal, most cost-effective design of short span steel bridges (those with spans up to 140 feet). It provides bridge professionals with a single resource to find optimized steel solutions for their projects—a “one-stop shop” for steel fabrication and erection details.

How does it work?
To begin to use eSPAN140, simply go to and create a free account. Then input information about your specific project, including span length, number of striped traffic lanes, skew angle and design speed, among other requirements. eSPAN140 then provides a customized “Steel Bridge Solutions Book” in PDF file format based on the specific input provided.

Do I need to download software and/or an executable file to my computer to use eSPAN140?
No, eSPAN140 is completely web-based. It does not require you to download any type of software.

Does it cost anything to use eSPAN140?
No, it’s free of charge to use.

How long does it take to obtain a design through eSPAN140?
After you set up a user’s account, it takes just a few minutes to enter the specifics of your bridge project and obtain a customized Solutions Book for your project.

Why do I need to create a users account?
Once you create a users account, you will have full access to the previous designs you input into eSPAN140 (it saves all of your past projects entered into eSPAN140). You will also have the ability to change/modify past designs and share the solutions generated by eSPAN140 with your colleagues.

What information is needed to create a design in eSPAN140?
You only need three basic measurements to get your bridge project started:

Required information:
- Bridge span length
- Number of striped traffic lanes
- Roadway width

Optional information:
- Individual parapet width
- Individual deck overhang width
- Pedestrian access
- Skew angle
- Average daily traffic
- Design speed
- Waterway area (for corrugated steel pipe solutions)
- Height of cover (for corrugated steel pipe solutions)

Do you need to have steel bridge design experience and/or specific software knowledge to operate eSPAN140?
No, steel bridge design experience is not needed to operate eSPAN140. In fact, you do not even have to be a bridge engineer. It is very simple to use.

Who developed eSPAN140?
eSPAN140 was developed by members of the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance with input from the National Association of County Engineers Structures Committee, Federal Highway Administration, and AASHTO T-14 Technical Committee for Structural Steel Design.

Can you provide more information about how the short span standards were created?
eSPAN140 contains standard designs for rolled beam, plate girder, corrugated steel pipe (CSP), and corrugated structural plate. The rolled beam and plate standards were created by a collaborative team of bridge owners (DOT and county engineers), manufacturers, fabricators, bridge design experts, academia, and steel professionals who reviewed more than 3,000 potential designs over several years for the development of eSPAN140. Dr. Karl Barth of West Virginia University led this effort to create the standards. The corrugated structural plate and CSP standards were developed by the National Corrugated Steel Pipe Association.

Are the rolled beam and plate girder standard designs approved by my state?
The rolled beam and plate girder standard designs are currently not approved by any individual states. The designs serve as a preliminary design for using steel, and must be stamped by a professional engineer within your state before being used to design a steel short span bridge. The SSSBA is currently working with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to have the designs approved as a national guideline, which will open the door for individual states to approve their use.

Do the steel short span standard designs contain a P.E. stamp?
No, the standard designs are not stamped. While they are believed to reasonably reflect the present state of knowledge on the subject, they have not been prepared for conventional use as an engineering or construction document. Therefore, they should not be used or relied upon for any specific application without competent professional examination and verification of accuracy, suitability, and applicability by a licensed engineer, architect or other professional.

What type of output/solution does eSPAN140 provide?
eSPAN140 provides a customized Solutions Book (in PDF format) based on the input provided. The Solutions Book includes:
- Standard designs for rolled beam, plate girder, corrugated structural plate, and corrugated steel pipe.
- Manufacturers’ customized pre-fabricated solutions.
- Durability solutions.
- Contact information to design and build your bridge, as well as to provide pricing information).
- Access to complimentary design support.

Who should use eSPAN140?
Bridge owners (county, DOT, private); Bridge designers; County, consulting and state engineers.

Does eSPAN140 provide designs for pedestrian and/or railroad bridges?
At this time, eSPAN140 is only for vehicular bridges. However, many of the SSSBA members manufacture pedestrian and railroad bridges. See the links to the SSSBA website for specific products offered by the individual companies.

How do I access eSPAN140?
Go to or

How will I know how to use it?
The directions are clearly displayed on both websites. An introductory two-minute video provides a broad overview of how the process works.

How long does it take between the time I input my design requirements and when I get the Steel Solutions booklet?
It typically takes less than a minute to receive the Steel Bridge Solutions Book in PDF format, depending on your connection speed. Once you complete the last input value, eSPAN140 takes into account all of your design criteria in the development of the Steel Bridge Solutions Book. You will see a small circle rotating. Once it stops rotating, a link will appear that allows you to view your Steel Bridge Solutions Book.

Can I modify my bridge design after it has been entered into eSPAN140?
Yes. Simply enter the new values on the Start Screen (click on “Duplicate” to begin the process) and you will receive a revised Steel Bridge Solutions Book.

I’d like to share my Steel Solutions document with a co-worker, but I don’t want to take the time to download the information and save it in my files. What other option do I have?
You can copy and paste the URL address for the Steel Bridge Solutions Book into an email to your co-worker, and he/she can click on the link to see the document. You can also use the “Share” function on the Project screen to share the solutions. A third option is to save the file as a PDF on your computer, but the files are very large (typically 20+ megs) and it’s easier to share via a link or share function in eSPAN140.

How long will the Steel Solutions PDF/link stay active?

Are there special instructions for printing the Steel Bridge Solutions Book?
The document will automatically print on 11” x 17” paper. You can also shrink the document to an 8.5” x 11” format and it will still be readable.

If I get the Steel Bridge Solutions Book and still have questions, is there somebody I can contact to get additional help?
Yes. You can contact the Steel Bridge Technology Center for free technical advice on your project. The Steel Bridge Technology Center is available at the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance website. You can also directly contact the manufacturers listed in the Solutions Book for pricing information, product questions, installation details, etc.

I have received a Steel Solutions Book from eSPAN140 and would now like to compare the cost of a steel bridge with other materials. Who can help me with that information?
The Steel Bridge Solutions Book contains information on steel bridge fabricators who can help with your project, along with images of projects that they have completed. A contact name and other information are listed for each fabricator and on the “Contacts List” at the end of the Steel Bridge Solutions Book.

I’d like to have someone come to my facility to talk to co-workers about the cost and time advantages of designing steel bridges. Is there someone available to do that?
Yes. You can contact Dan Snyder at the Steel Market Development Institute at or call 301.367.6179 for information on half-day bridge workshops and webinars. Or, go to the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance website and visit the Bridge Technology Center page to make your request.

Why is eSPAN140 unique?

  • It’s the only tool of its kind for the design of short span steel bridges.
  • It provides a one-stop shop for steel-based solutions, saving significant time and costs for bridge professionals.
  • It provides standard designs and details, which help to expedite the overall design of the structure and ultimately reduce the overall project delivery time.
  • It provides prefabricated element solutions that are available from manufacturers throughout the country.
  • It includes the new national standards for steel bridges that were published in December 2011. The standards apply to corrugated steel pipe, structural plate, rolled beam and plate structures.
  • It simplifies the sizes of steel beams and girders that are needed, eliminating guesswork for the bridge designers and saving them time and money.
  • It includes free access to a Steel Bridge Technology Center.
  • Users get optimized and cost-effective solutions for their projects, as well as a list of fabricators who can guide their projects from start to finish.
  • It gives bridge engineers a reason to choose steel for their projects because the design process is streamlined.
  • It doesn’t cost anything to use it, and users can modify their bridge designs multiple times without having to open up new project files.

Are there plans to expand the capabilities of eSPAN140 in the future?
Yes. There are plans to continue the development of standards (continuous span, deck/railing options, Canadian/metric version, etc.), and additional modules will be included in future upgrades of eSPAN140. If you have ideas for additional capabilities, please contact Dan Snyder (

How is eSPAN140 different from the National Steel Bridge Alliance’s SIMON?

  • eSPAN140 is an interactive, web-based preliminary design tool specifically for steel bridges under 140 feet. SIMON is a box girder bridge design and analysis program.
  • eSPAN140 is available at
  • SIMON is available at
  • There is no charge to use either eSPAN140 or SIMON.

Are standards available for bridges over 140 feet?
Yes. The National Steel Bridge Alliance recently developed continuous span standards. These standards were developed in conjunction with Commonwealth Engineers & Consultants Inc. of Providence, RI. Each bridge has five girders in the cross-section, under balanced geometry configurations—center spans between 150 feet and 300 feet, and end spans at 78% of the center span. Girder spacings for these geometries range between 7'6" and 12'. All solutions are based upon the AASHTO LRFD 7th Edition and HL 93 live loading and presented in tabular form. To download a free copy, click here

What other information is available on the design of short span steel bridges?
Visit the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance website at for:
- General information on the durability, time and cost benefits of choosing steel for your short span bridge project.
- General technical overview of steel bridge components.
- Access to the Steel Bridge Technology Center
- eSPAN140 testimonials
- Information on SSSBA member companies
- Blog
- Instructional Videos
- Learning Center
- Case Studies
- Project Gallery
- Upcoming Events 

My company is not a member of the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance, but we are interested in joining. Who can talk to me about becoming a member?
For more information on becoming an SSSBA member, please click here.