Steel Advantages

Why Should I use Steel For My Next Project?


  • Steel's light weight speeds construction and permits use of smaller-scale equipment at the construction site.*
  • In many cases, local crews can be used to install a short span steel bridge.
  • Steel is lighter than concrete for the same load-carrying capacity.*
  • Steel components are made to closer tolerances, which often translate into faster erection.*


  • Steel is highly resistant to extreme natural disasters, such as earthquakes. Example: 1994 Northridge, CA earthquake, which destroyed the surrounding transportation infrastructure. However, 96% of the existing steel bridges were completely undamaged, even though they were designed using 1940s technology.
  • Steel's high strength permits longer spans, minimizing disruption to underlying habitats.* In some cases, this can eliminate the need to undertake costly environmental impact studies.*
  • Steel bridges have long lives, decreasing the need for replacement.*


  • Steel bridge fabricators provide a wide range of modular / prefabricated steel bridge and culverts – some can be installed in a weekend!
  • With standard plans and design aids now available through eSPAN140, a short span steel bridge can be designed and fabricated in a short amount of time.


  • Due to the light weight of steel, cost savings can be significant: smaller abutments, use of local crews, fast installation, lighter equipment – when you add them all up, steel provides significant cost savings.
  • Studies show that weathering steel reduces both initial and life cycle costs.
  • Hot-dip galvanizing is another option. It contains no VOCs, is 100 percent recyclable, and 30 percent of all zinc used comes from recycled by-products.
  • A1010 – Eliminates the need for maintenance of paint.  Approximately 10 times better resistance to chloride corrosion versus carbon steel.  This helps insure you can “Stay Out” after construction.


  • Steel is North America's Number #1 Recycled Material. Each year, more steel is recycled than aluminum, paper, glass and plastic combined!
  • The estimated recycling rate for steel resulting from construction and demolition activities was 87.9% in 2010.
  • Steel from a disassembled bridge can be used again for another project. When Hurricane Ivan damaged the bridge over Florida's Escambia Bay in Pensacola, contractors used 36-inch steel beams from a disassembled bridge in Tennessee to make substructure repairs.*
  • The energy conserved each year by recycling steel could power approximately 18 million homes.
  • Steel's energy use has been voluntarily reduced by 33% since 1990.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions per ton of steel shipped have been reduced by nearly 45% since 1975.

* Information from the National Steel Bridge Alliance white paper, "Steel: The Environment's Friend for Bridge Construction."