From Artificial Intelligence to Handcrafting: A Manufacturing Blog

The Planning Process behind Constructing Bridges

by Jennifer Jones

An important part of civil engineering is the construction of structures that are essential for daily use in the local population. Bridges are important pieces of infrastructure that facilitate transportation and the movement of products across water bodies.

When engineers need to construct a bridge, an intricate process often has to be carried out to determine all the dimensions of the project from start to finish.

The technical Dimension

The technical dimension of a bridge construction project often involves determining how the bridge will be built and how it will serve the local population safely and effectively. As part of the technical preparation process, the following factors are considered.

Initial Planning

In order to construct a bridge, many different engineering disciplines have to be considered. Elements of civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering all come into play, in addition to geological factors. For example, the stability of a bridge will be dependent on the local climatic conditions and the state of the bridge's foundation. Mechanical dynamics come into play when determining the load and materials that should be used to construct the bridge.

When preparing the initial plan for the project, multiple professionals will be consulted by the civil engineer to develop a model that is as accurate as possible.  

Determining the Bridge foundation

The construction of any bridge will typically begin with the foundation. To build a foundation that is stable and safe enough to uphold the structure, civil engineers will use geotechnical methods to determine the condition of the surrounding land and its stability.

This will determine the type of foundation that will be used for the project. The choice between a well foundation or pile foundation will depend on the soil, the size of the bridge, and the load that it will carry.

Equipment to be used

During the technical stage of the project, the equipment to be used will also be determined. Most bridges require bulldozers, mixers and excavators to construct the bridge in a safe and effective manner.

The scientific dimension

The scientific dimension of a bridge construction project involves the determination of the load-bearing capacity of the bridge along with testing for stability and durability.

Determining the load of the bridge

Scientific methods are often used by civil engineers to determine the load bearing capacity of the bridge. This includes determining how many cars, people and machines can be on the bridge at the same time. The structure will also be analysed to determine its ability to withstand strong winds, heavy rains and earthquakes.

The oscillations of the bridge and dynamic forces acting on it will determine the final load bearing capacity.