The Advantages and Disadvantages of Arch Bridges

Arch bridges are very strong and simple bridges that have been utilized for thousands of years. Traditionally they where built from rocks or bricks, but the advancement of materials has led to them being even stronger than before. The arch bridge is still one of the most prominent bridge designs in the world. The strength comes from the way it is set up. It has two abutments, which are bases that take on all of the pressure and the arches dissipate all of the weight evenly across the bridge. Even with fantastic design of these structures, they still have some drawbacks associated with them.

The Advantages Of Arch Bridges

1. Variety Of Building Materials
Many different things can be used to efficiently build an arch bridge. Man made materials like concrete or enforced steel can be used, as well as natural materials like stones or bricks.

2. Extremely Strong
The arch design allows any forces or pressure that is placed on the bridge to be pushed straight down, meaning that no part of the bridge takes on a high amount of pressure. The half circle design prevents any changes or distortions in the bridge due to bending.

3. They Only Get Stronger
The more a arch bridge is used, the stronger it gets. This is because the materials compact closer and closer together, giving an even firmer foundation.

The Disadvantages of Arch Bridges

1. They Take A Long Time To Build
Arch bridges have to be built in a very specific and meticulous way. This requires a very large amount of labor and time to construct.

2. Regular Maintenance Is Required
Specifically in the case of natural materials, a high level of maintenance and upkeep is needed in order to ensure that the bridge remains safe and sturdy. This includes repairing damage caused by wind, rain, and other types of storms.

3. Small Length Restrictions
Due to the high amount of materials that are needed and the way that the arch bridge is designed, the length that it can be is very small. This makes it most suitable for small bodies of water, like lakes or rivers.

4. High Costs
There is a very large amount of materials needed to build even a small arch bridge, this translates in money. Arch bridges cost much more to build than other types of bridges because of this and the amount of time and labor that is required.

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Important Facts About Arch Bridges

  • The ancient Romans where among the first to utilize the arch bridge designs.
  • Bridges where not the only thing that they used the arch design for. They used it in aqueducts as well.
  • There are many different variations of arch bridges, including: deck, through, and tied.
  • Arch bridges are very common over mountain valleys and steep gorges.
  • The longest arch bridge in the world is over the Yangtze River in China and spans over 1800 feet.
  • There are plans for a world record shattering 3,000 foot arch bridge to be built in Dubai.
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