A structure built to span an obstacle - such as a river.


The side support at either end of an arch bridge, necessary to withstand the horizontal forces generated by the arch's shape.

Bascule Bridge

The deck is raised with counterweights like a drawbridge.

Beam Bridge

A simple type of bridge, composed of horizontal beams supported by vertical posts.

Cable-Stayed Bridge

A bridge in which the roadway deck is suspended from cables anchored to one or more towers.

Continuous Span Beam Bridge

Simple bridge made by linking one beam bridge to another; some of the longest bridges in the world are continuous span beam bridges.


Supported roadway on a bridge. Usually horizontal, and often suspended from cables or resting on an arch.


The deck can be raised and lowered.


The stones at the base of a bridge structure that take the loads onto the foundations.

Lift Bridge

The deck is raised vertically like a massive elevator.

Movable Bridge

A bridge in which the deck moves to clear a navigation channel.


The support of a bridge below the roadway.


The tower above a bridge deck that usually carries cable stays.

Suspension Bridge

A bridge in which the roadway deck is suspended from cables that pass over two towers; the cables are anchored in housings at either end of the bridge.

Swing Bridge

The deck that rotates around a centre point.

See also: Ammann, Othmar Herrmann, Arrol, Sir William, Baker, Sir Benjamin, Bascule Bridge, Beam Bridge, Bollman, Wendel, Cable-Stayed Bridge, Cardoso, Edgar, Continuous Span Beam Bridge, Deck, Drawbridge, Footers, Lift Bridge, Movable Bridge, Pylon, Span, Suspended Deck, Suspension Bridge, Swing Bridge, Viaduct.

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Subjects: Civil Engineering

Weblinks: Bridge basics, a spotters guide to bridge design.