Why Steel?

Why should you use steel for your next bridge construction project?

Economical: Short Span Steel Bridges are Cost-Effective on Several Levels.

  • 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, A1010, and galvanized steel reduces both initial and life cycle costs.
  • Steel can compete and even save costs when compared with nearly identical concrete structures. A side-by-side comparison of steel versus concrete bridge showed a 19 percent savings by using steel in the total cost of the structure.
  • Steel bridges also have long lives, decreasing the need for replacement. New press-brake-formed steel bridges have life expediencies of 100 years or more.
  • 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 is highly resistant to extreme natural disasters such as earthquakes. An example is the 1994 Northridge, California earthquake, which destroyed the surrounding transportation infrastructure but left 96% of the existing steel bridges completely undamaged, even though they were designed using 1940s technology.
  • Steel is the world’s most recycled material and is infinitely recyclable, so it can be repurposed from one bridge project to another. Ohio’s Muskingum County Engineer’s Office (MCEO) estimates that $51,000 was saved in superstructure costs for replacement of the Green Valley Road Bridge.
  • Short span steel bridges can be designed with prefabricated elements which provide a simpler installation and cost savings

Sustainable: Steel is North America’s Number #1 Recycled Material

  • 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. In Muskingum County, Ohio, five bridges have been replaced with repurposed steel, saving costs as well as resources.
  • Press-brake-formed steel tub girder bridges can last 100 years or more, with minimal maintenance over their long service lives.
  • The high strength of steel permits longer spans, which minimizes disruption to underlying habitats.
  • Steel is highly resistant to extreme natural disasters such as earthquakes.
  • The American steel industry has achieved a 31 percent reduction in energy intensity and a 36 percent reduction in greenhouse gas intensity since 1990.

Durable: Short Span Steel Bridges are Built to Last

  • 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 bridges are not subject to shrinkage or creep under load over time.
  • Weathering, A709-50CR, paint, metalizing, and galvanized coatings protect structural steel and add longevity to the bridge.
  • A durable and nonporous material, steel provides value and a significant return on investment.

Accelerated: Prefabricated Steel Bridges Provide a Safe and Cost Effective Solution for ABC

  • Steel bridges can be fabricated off-site in a controlled equipment and ready to erect as soon as it reaches the bridge site.
  • Reinforcement and formwork installation is not required. Steel erection is not limited to a specific temperature range.
  • Steel is often lighter than other materials for the same span, resulting in smaller or fewer erection cranes.
  • Prefabricated steel bridges accelerate construction and reduce on-site labor requirements, reduce traffic disruption, and overall project costs.  They are also safe – reducing the exposure of workers and public to construction activities as well as environmental impacts.

Innovative: Advances in Steel Technology Reduces the Installed and Life-Cycle Cost of Bridges

  • Steel bridge fabricators provide a wide range of prefabricated steel bridge and buried soil structures – some can be installed in a weekend!
  • The Ohio Department of Transportation and Muskingum County were awarded an Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) Demonstration grant to replace a bridge using press brake tub girder (PBTG) technology with a steel Sandwich Plate System (SPS) deck.
  • New steel grades and coating technology can extend the life of a bridge to over 100 years – including advances in weathering, A709-50CR, paint, metalizing, and galvanized coating protection systems.
  • Innovative tools like eSPAN140 provide bridge professionals with the optimal, most cost-effective design for short span steel bridges.

Related Resources: Why Steel?

Press Brake Tub Girders - West Virginia

Research Reports: Development and Experimental Testing of Press Brake Tub Girders

Seven volume research report on the development and testing of steel press brake formed tub girders.

Amish Sawmill Bridge - Lead Image

Amish Sawmill Bridge: An Innovative Steel Solution for Short Span Bridge Design

Buchanan County Iowa receives IBRC grant to constuct a press brake tub girder bridge.

Research Report: An Assessment Of Weathering Steel Bridges In West Virginia

Report provides an assessment of the performance of the weathering steel bridges in West Virginia.

Texas Public Works Uses Prefabricated Bridge for Replacement Project

Contractor uses press brake tub girder for its ease of construction and short lead time (less than 8 weeks).

Saving Time in Michigan with Press-Brake-Formed Steel Tub Girders

St. Clair County Michigan Uses Press Brake Tub Girders for ABC Project.

Press Brake Steel Tub Girders

History and Overview of Press Brake Tub Girders

The press-brake-formed tub girder is a recently developed technology for short span bridge applications.

Audrain County Steel Bridge

Short Span Shake-Up

Missouri short span bridge study finds steel saved 25% over concrete.

Cedar Creek Fish Passage Restoration

Cedar Creek Fish Passage Restoration Del Norte County, California

Video of a modular bridge installation that took place for the replacement of a culvert in a California fish passage.

OH Bridge - Muskingum County

Research Report: Life Cycle Costs Matter When Comparing Steel and Concrete Girder Bridges

Dr. Barker developed a database to determine and compare the life cycle costs of steel and concrete girder bridges.

Big R Bridge, SuperCor Steel Box Culverts - Cape Girardeau, MO (1) copy

Smart Ways to Save Time and Money on Short Span Bridge Design and Construction

The SSSBA offers many proven cost-effective and time-saving solutions to improve infrastructure.

Truss Steel Bridge

Improving the U.S. Bridge Infrastructure Grade With Steel Solutions

The SSSBA offers many proven cost-effective and time-saving solutions to improve infrastructure.

First eSPAN140 Bridge - Brian Keierleber

Breathing New LIFE Into Short Span Steel Bridge Design

eSPAN140 provides a proven, cost-effective engineering solution to update our nations infrastructure.

Turning a Challenge Into an Innovative Design Solution

The Amish Sawmill Bridge in Iowa is the first steel press-brake-formed tub girder bridge in service in the United States.

Steel Buried Bridge

Hidden in Plain Sight–the Design, Cost and Maintenance Advantages of Steel Buried Bridges

Steel buried bridges are durable and resilient, with the ability to support very heavy loads.

Sandwich Plate System Bridge Deck

Sandwich Plate System Deck

SPS is a structural material of two metal plates with a polyurethane elastomer core.

Steel Orthotropic Decks

Steel Orthotropic Decks

Orthotropic decks are composed of a steel plate that is covered by a shop-installed roadway surface.

Fiber Reinforced Polymer Bridge Deck

Fiber Reinforced Polymer Decks

Open grid decks can be described as small-scale steel framing systems used as a bridge deck.

PBTG Modern Steel Construction

“Tub Time” – Modern Steel Construction

A new report showcases the development of press brake-formed tub girder bridges.

Cannelville Road Bridge

Innovative Bridge Design Saves Months in Construction Schedule

Muskingum County (Ohio) uses press brake tub girder bridge for accelerated bridge project.

Press Brake Steel Tub Girder - Dr. Barth and Dr. Michaelson

County to Save $100,000 Using Innovative Steel Design for Bridge Replacement Project

Press Brake Formed Tub Girder (PBTG) provides cost-effective option for a County in Iowa.

Missouri DOT Selects Steel for 45 Foot Span Bridge in Scott County

Galvanized rolled steel beam beat out concrete by 2.5 percent in this Missouri DOT project.

Open Grid Deck

Open Grid Decks

Open grid decks can be described as small-scale steel framing systems used as a bridge deck.

Precast Deck Slabs

Full Depth Precast Deck Slabs

Full depth precast deck slabs are one of the most common prefabricated deck systems.

Midland County Road Commision, MI

Midland County Bundles Innovative Steel Bridge System and Saves Big

The new Orr Road Bridge in Midland County, Michigan, is a press brake fabricated steel bridge.

Ohio Bridge Raises the Bar for Future Short Span Construction

The Cannelville Road Bridge in Ohio was completed ahead of schedule, and is expected to have a service life of more than 100 years.