5+ Great Types of Bridges Around the World 

 August 1, 2022

Written by Yemisi Iyilade, Project Management Consultant, Scientist & Innovation Expert.

Bridges are one of the most essential parts of human civilization. They connect people and cultures and play a vital role in transportation. There are many different types of bridges, each with its own unique characteristics.

When you’re driving over a bridge, do you ever stop to think about how it was made? How much thought and engineering went into designing a structure that can hold up cars and trucks and buses?

We were driving through the Niagara Bridge recently, and my son was curious and wanted to know about the many types of bridges that we have in the world. So I decided to do some homework and compose this post.

In this blog post, we will discuss 5 different types of bridges that can be found around the world. We will explore the history and design of each bridge, and explain why it is so important to engineers and those looking for innovative solutions for different types of bridges.

What are the 5 main types of bridges around the world?

There are many different types of bridges based on unique bridge designs and various construction materials that have been built around the world.

The Roman aqueducts were perhaps the first bridges designed to carry a roadway, though little physical evidence remains of them. The simplest types of arch bridges are constructed from a single piece of stone or concrete.

The stones are placed in such a way that they interlock and support each other without the use of mortar or cement. The weight of the bridge is transferred outward along the curve of the arch to the abutments at either end.

You can appreciate the beauty and ingenuity of bridge construction by comprehending the science and uniqueness of each bridge.

Some of the most common types of bridges include:

1) Beam Bridges

One of the simplest and most common types of bridges is a beam bridge. A beam bridge is the most common type of bridge. They are simple and effective and have been used for thousands of years.

They are supported by piers (vertical supports) at each end. The roadway is then placed on top of these beams, which can be made from wood, steel, or reinforced concrete.

The first beam bridge was probably logs or planks placed across a river or stream. These early bridges were likely only strong enough to support a few people at a time. But as technology improved, so did the strength and capacity of a beam bridge.

Today, beam bridges can span hundreds or even thousands of feet, and support millions of pounds of weight. They are used to cross everything from small streams to the widest rivers and the busiest highways.

And while they may look different than their ancient predecessors, the basic principle is still the same: a strong beam placed across a gap.

Most small bridges you see in your neighborhood are beam bridges. They are typically used for shorter spans and less traffic.

Beams are the most widespread type of bridge, and they may be found all around the world. New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge are two examples of beam bridges.

2) Truss Bridges

Truss bridges are particularly suited to carrying heavy loads over long spans, and so are often used for highway and railroad bridges.

The first truss bridge was built in the early 19th century, and many different designs have been developed since then. It is now being used in a variety of other settings, such as footbridges and suspension bridges.

There are many different types of truss bridges, but all share a few common features. They typically have a deck (the roadway or walkway), two or more supports (called piers), and trusses (triangular frames).

The deck is supported by the trusses, which in turn are supported by the piers. The weight of the deck is shared evenly by the trusses, and the piers support only a small fraction of the weight. This makes truss bridges very strong and able to carry heavy loads.

3) Suspension Bridges

Suspension bridges are one of the oldest types of bridges, with examples dating back to ancient Greece.

A suspension bridge is generally used to span large bodies of water or deep valleys and may be found in a range of environments, from isolated mountain passes to bustling metropolises.

A suspension bridge works by suspending the roadway from cables or ropes that are attached to towers on either side of the river or chasm being spanned.

The cables support the weight of the deck and traffic, while the towers bear only a small portion of the load. This design results in a light and elegant bridge that can span distances of up to several miles.

The suspension bridge is very strong and can be vulnerable to high winds or earthquakes. Developments in engineering in the early part of the 20th century permitted the creation of taller and longer spans in a suspension bridge.

Many suspension bridges have withstood decades of use and remain some of the most popular tourist destinations in their respective cities.

Today, suspension bridges are still being built all over the world. They are particularly popular in Asia, where many rivers are too wide and deep to be spanned by any other type of bridge.

The beauty and engineering ingenuity of these bridges continue to amaze and inspire people, no matter where they’re located. Examples are the Bay Bridge and George Washington Bridge.

What is your favorite suspension bridge? Have you ever had the chance to walk or drive across one?

4) Cantilever Bridges

The term “cantilever” refers to any form of a bridge that hangs from one cantilever. There are two sorts of cantilever bridges: basic and fixed. A single-span simple cantilever bridge is less stable than a fixed cantilever bridge, but it is more expensive to construct.

The strength of these bridges is that they can span great distances and are capable of withstanding substantial loads. They are, however, not suitable for all terrains. They’re also more prone to destruction from high winds than other types of bridges. If they are damaged, they are also more difficult to restore.

A cantilever bridge has support piers only on one end, with the other end (or ends) suspended in mid-air. This type of bridge is often used for railroad crossings.

Cantilever bridges are frequently used to span bodies of water, including rivers and canyons. They may also be utilized to span valleys, railways, and roads in remote areas where a bridge with piers in the water is not feasible or desirable. Steel or reinforced concrete is typically utilized in its construction.

Cantilevers can be supported by trusses, girders, or beams. Cantilevers are generally hung from cables and hinges are generally supported by bearings.

Cantilever bridges are perhaps the most visually dramatic of bridge types. They are also some of the oldest surviving examples, with early versions having been constructed by the ancient Romans.

The basic idea of a cantilever bridge is simple: two towers are built on either side of the span that is to be crossed, and beams extend from these towers out over the gap. These beams are then connected in the middle, forming a rigid structure.

Cantilever bridges come in two basic forms: those with suspended spans and those with hinged spans. The cantilevers at the outermost ends of the suspended span type are connected, and the distance between them is supported by cables or steel rods.

The second main type of cantilever bridge has hinged spans. In this type, the cantilevers are connected at their innermost ends, and the outer ends are free to move up and down.

The Forth Bridge in Scotland, the Quebec Bridge in Canada, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia are examples of contemporary cantilever bridges.

5) Girder Bridges.

Girder bridges are the most common type of bridge, and they are made up of a series of steel or concrete beams that support the bridge deck. They are composed of either a series of girders or a single Girder.

The weight of the bridge deck and traffic is transferred to the girders, which in turn transfer the load to the bridge abutments at either end.

Girder bridges can be used for a variety of purposes, including carrying vehicular and pedestrian traffic, railway bridges, and even aqueducts. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can span anywhere from a few feet to several miles.

The most common type of girder bridge is the plate girder bridge. Plate girders are made up of two plates that are connected together by webbing or flanges. These types of bridges are often used for spans of up to 200 feet.

Another common type of girder bridge is the truss bridge. Truss bridges are made up of a series of connected triangles that support the bridge deck. They are often used for longer spans and can span up to several miles.

Girder bridges are a very versatile type of bridge and can be used for a variety of purposes.

The different types of girder bridges include:

  1. Plate girder bridge
  2. Truss bridge
  3. Box girder bridge
  4. Tubular bridge
  5. Orthotropic bridge

Each type of bridge is designed for a specific purpose and has its own advantages and disadvantages. 


Another common type of bridge design are the Arch Bridges

Arch bridges are defined by their curved design. They use either a series of arches or a single arch to support the weight of the bridge and traffic above. The arch transfers the weight of the bridge and traffic outward, downward, and to the abutments at either end.

The arch bridge was used extensively by the Romans, who built some of the most famous examples including the Pont du Gard aqueduct in France and the Ponte Fabricio, the oldest standing bridge in Rome.

The Gothic arch, with its pointed shape, was first used in medieval Europe in the 12th century. Gothic arches were often used in the construction of castles and cathedrals, where their height allowed for the inclusion of large stained glass windows.

The arch bridge was further developed in the 19th century with the introduction of iron and steel as structural materials. The first iron bridge was built in England in 1779, and the first steel bridge was built in 1879. These new materials allowed for the construction of much larger and more complex arch bridges.

Today, arch bridges are still being built around the world using a variety of different materials. They are an important part of our transportation infrastructure, and their graceful design continues to inspire engineers and architects.

While ensuring that it is practical, arched bridges are frequently utilized in places where there isn’t much space for a long span and for aesthetic reasons. They are commonly built from stone or brick but can also be constructed from concrete, steel, and wood.

There are many different types of arch bridges including:

Fixed Arch Bridge

The basic design of all fixed arch bridges, consists of two vertical supports, or abutments, with a horizontal beam, or deck, spanning between them. The weight of the deck presses down on the arches, which in turn transfers the weight to the abutments. The arches are designed to deflect or spread out, the weight so that it is evenly distributed across the bridge.

Open-Spandrel Arch bridge.

The phrase “open-spandrel” implies that the bridge has gaps between the arches. This sort of bridge is typically utilized for spans ranging from medium to long lengths and its unique structure helps to provide support for the bridge deck. These arches can be either straight or curved and the type of arch used will depend on the span length and load requirements of the bridge.

Open-spandrel bridges are often used for roadways and railways. They are also sometimes used for pedestrian walkways.

Closed Spandrel Arch Bridge

A closed-spandrel arch bridge is a type of arch bridge that has solid walls or spandrels on each side of the arch. The solid walls or spandrels close off the space between the arches, which makes this type of bridge different from an open-spandrel arch bridge. Closed-spandrel bridges are usually made of concrete or stone.

Rigid Frame Bridge

The arch in the Rigid Frame Bridge is made up of two or more support beams that are linked at the top by a beam known as the tie beam. Steel or concrete support beams are often used, while wood is frequently utilized for the tie beam. The arch design allows the bridge to bear weight without breaking apart.


What is a bridge?

A bridge is a structure built to span physical obstacles such as a body of water, valley, or road, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle.

Bridges are not limited to man-made structures; nature has created some of the most impressive bridges in the world, including those formed by rivers when they erode through the soft rock over time.

The bridge is one of the oldest types of structures in existence and has played an important role in the development of civilization. The ancient Egyptians built the first permanent bridge across the Nile River, using wooden posts and stone beams to support a platform made of wooden planks.

Bridges can be built in a variety of ways, depending on the materials available, the purpose of the bridge, and the environment it will be located.

While all bridge types have their own benefits and drawbacks, it is important to understand the science and structural design behind each one. Each bridge is unique, so engineers must carefully consider all factors before deciding which type of bridge will work best for a specific location.

By understanding the science, data and statistics of bridges and highways, we can appreciate the beauty and ingenuity of bridge construction. Have you had a chance to check out any bridges lately? Which type do you think is the most impressive?

What was the first bridge design?

The first bridge was designed by George Washington in the late 1700s. The design was simple but effective, and it quickly became a popular choice for builders. Today, there are many different types of bridges, but the basic design remains the same.

Bridge building is an important part of any nation’s infrastructure, and it is a field that continues to evolve. George Washington’s original design is a reminder of the important role bridges plays in our lives.

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Yemisi Iyilade

Yemisi Iyilade is a Project Management Professional, PMP and Maxwell Leadership Coach and Trainer. She has worked in the environmental, nonprofit, and technology industries, developing new products and services, providing leadership, and facilitating meaningful engagement with stakeholders. Yemisi is driven by a mission to empower young people, women, and immigrant professionals through content delivery, coaching and training. She believes that if given the right tools and tactics, any motivated person can gain the awareness and grit needed to create better opportunities.


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