Economics

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

Steel Bridge Local Crews

A local crew from Buchanan County, Iowa, replaced the Jesup South bridge with steel.

Steel provides an economical choice for the repair or replacement of short span bridges.

  • 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.

Related Resources: Economics

Life Cycle Analysis Steel Bridges

“Long-Term Analysis for Short-Span Bridges” – Modern Steel Construction

A recent life-cycle cost analysis compares steel and concrete short-span bridges.

Steel Bridge Fabrication

Video: Suggested Fabrication Details, Part 2

This video provides an overview of simple and economical practices specific to girder fabrication.

Steel Bridge Fabrication

Video: Suggested Fabrication Details, Part 1

This video provides an overview of simple and economical fabrication for framing system layouts.

Audrain County Steel Bridge

Short Span Shake-Up

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

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.

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.