The purpose of a truss bridge was to help you go from Point A to B while going over an obstacle. Historically, wooden bridges were the most popular material to use early on since reinforced concrete or prestressed concrete weren’t available initially. Eventually, large I-Beams were developed and used; unfortunately, their high cost to manufacture and transport made them less popular. Now thanks to emerging material options, technology, and the desire to enhance the beauty of outdoor spaces, the truss bridges are often selected because they are aesthetically pleasing, rather than solely due to budget or logistical constraints.

This article will provide additional information on the purpose of a truss bridge and where you can build one, so you can determine if it’s the best bridge option for your project. 

What is the Purpose of a Truss Bridge and Each of Its Parts?

Currently, the primary purpose of a truss bridge is:

  • Aesthetic reasons  
  • Cost efficiency since it uses fewer materials than other bridges
  • Easy onsite assembly without using heavy equipment 
  • The quick ability to replace individual members if damaged 

Now that you understand the purpose of building a truss bridge, you can better understand the meaning behind the main components of it.

#1 Foundation/Abutments 

The bridge abutments are placed at each end of the bridge to ensure the bridge is supported to the ground. The abutments use stringers (parallel lines of beams) to provide additional support to the bridge’s decking. For multi-span bridges piers may also be needed.

#2 Truss Frames & Members 

The truss component of the bridge consists of two horizontal “chord” members (a top and bottom one). Top chords are in compression, bottom chords are in tension. Diagonals and/or verticals connect the top and bottom chords. Then the top and bottom chord members are connected by vertical and diagonal members, which gives the truss bridge the triangular shapes. These members may be in compression or tension.

The truss frame and members provide the support to handle the bridge’s weight and all additional loading from pedestrian or vehicle traffic, as well as wind and snow loads.

#3 Floor Beams and Stringers

Since the truss bridge can handle large amounts of weight, the floor beams and outriggers transfer live loads  to the trusses. Stringers (parallel lines of beams) sit on top of the floor beams to provide support to the bridge’s decking.

#4 Decking

To provide a surface for walking/vehicle traffic etc. decking is placed on top of the stringers. 

Where to Build a Truss Bridge?

Now that you understand the purpose behind the truss bridge and its parts, where can you build one? Thanks to its versatile design, you can build a truss bridge anywhere that has the ground support to handle the bridge. Below are some popular locations and reasons for installing a truss bridge. 

Shared Community Spaces 

Truss bridges can connect two community spaces together while providing an attractive and pleasing design that compliments the area.

Equestrian Trails 

Thanks to their ability to accommodate heavier weights, truss bridges are an ideal solution for offering a safe crossway for riders and their horses. 

Nature Trails and National Parks

Fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) truss bridges are an excellent option for natural trails and parks because of it’s lightweight and minimal maintenance, especially if the bridge needs to be built in a remote location (which makes it difficult to transport heavy equipment). 

Learn More about FRP Truss Bridges 

FRP is a relatively new material that’s been providing tremendous benefits for bridge projects. Areté Structures partners with the world’s largest FRP manufacturer to ensure access to the best material available for your bridge. 

Contact us to learn more about FRP bridges.