Here’s What Equipment Is Used in Bridge Construction - BuilderSpace (2023)

Bridges are major infrastructure projects that use highly skilled engineering techniques. But more than that, bridge construction entails using specialized machinery. While the type of equipment used depends on a particular project, some tools are best suited for specific purposes, while others form basic equipment for bridge construction.

Equipment used in bridge construction includes bridge access machinery like cranes and aerial lifts. It also comprises excavators for digging trenches and hauling equipment like skid loaders and telehandlers. Also, hydro platforms enable below bridge access while light towers offer extra lighting.

Bridges come in a wide range of sizes and shapes. They are built over highways or water bodies, and constructing them requires varied equipment over the course of the project. Keep reading to learn more about the equipment builders use when constructing bridges and for what purposes.

Equipment Used To Break Ground

Before bridge construction can even start, the ground must be prepared for the bridge supports. The ground must be broken and the materials must be moved. Bridge construction equipment must include those things to complete these first actions.

Let’s take a look at this first category of construction equipment.


Bridges boast different designs and structures, but they all have a foundation or substructure containing footings, piers, and abutments.

Also, while different bridges contain different substructures, their excavation requirements are generally similar. For instance, various bridges use different construction materials, while long bridges feature piers for extra support.

During the construction of a new bridge, an excavator is among the initial bridge construction equipment used. It helps remove rocks, dirt, and debris materials from the site that forms the base of the bridge. Excavators also help dig trenches for the substructures and may be used alongside drilling and blasting to remove underwater materials.

But once bridge construction gets underway, excavators have minimal use though they can transport dirt and rubble.

Skid Loaders

After removing most of the soil and dirt, skid loaders help get the bridge site in order by moving the piles of dirt and rocks to their appropriate place. They also move the backfill needed to hold abutments securely in place and ensure that the bridge area is level.


Backhoes are essential in creating a strong bridge foundation. You can use them to dig holes and trenches for piers and abutments like excavators or move dirt, rocks, and backfill holes if need be, like skid loaders.

Equipment Used To Move Materials

Once the ground is broken and the dirt and debris have been moved away, the next category of construction equipment includes equipment to move heavy materials used to construct the bridge.

Let’s look at those now.


Telehandlers serve as bridgework equipment useful for moving large materials.

Bridge workers often combine telehandlers with a platform to gain access to specific points on the bridge. However, unlike boom lifts, telehandlers are not as adjustable.

A telehandler works like a forklift, but instead of the latter’s limited up-and-down motion, the telehandler offers an extended reach plus greater capacity. Moreover, it contains the same kind of attachments available on a forklift, though they’re much larger.

Aerial Lifts

An aerial lift is a type of bridge construction equipment that enables you to gain safe access to various parts of the bridge during construction.

Most bridge access equipment is designed to fulfill a special need, and aerial lifts are no exception. They are particularly helpful in instances where builders require extra height, like when working on elements above the bridge deck.

The most commonly used aerial lifts are straight telescopic and articulated knuckle boom lifts.

They both feature a platform that rises high into the air, but knuckle boom lifts sport joints that make them more flexible and agile, thus suitable for smaller spaces. Conversely, straight telescopic boom lifts move in a straight line to provide maximum reach but offer limited flexibility.

The type of aerial lift to go for will thus depend on the kind of bridge, the reach you desire to attain, and the capacity you will be lifting.

Hydro Platforms and Vertical Masts

These two pieces of equipment are useful when working under the bridge deck. The dynamic duo helps you get access to the bridge deck underside with the vertical mast attaching to the bridge side.

On its part, the hydro platform attaches to the vertical mast’s bottom and can move workers up to 35’ (10.6 m) beneath the bridge.


Cranes are bridge construction equipment used to put the bridge substructure and superstructure in place. The construction work entails setting beams and culverts, but the cranes also serve as bridge access equipment, helping to place concrete in areas unreachable by trucks, such as tall piers.

They could also serve to get shoring in place, offering temporary bridge support during construction. There are several types of crane equipment:

  • Floating crane: A floating crane or crane vessel is a specialized ship mounted with a crane. Bigger cranes boast a lifting capacity of 10,000+ tons (10,000,000+kg), with some crane barges capable of transporting sections of an entire bridge.
  • Bridge crane or overhead crane: Bridge cranes help fix bridges, especially large ones. Bridge constructors use them primarily when structuring bridge pillars before placing slabs.
  • Gantry crane: Grant cranes are a type of heavy machinery capable of lifting hefty loads. Though designed like bridge cranes, they have a different mode of mobility and are available in various options, including adjustable, full, portable, and semi-gantries.

Equipment Used To Construct the Bridge

Now that the materials are in place and the equipment for reaching high spaces is in place, construction crews also need to have the equipment to construct the actual bridge. Let’s look at these now.

Concrete Saws

Concrete saws help cut through differently sized concrete slabs used in bridge construction. Most of the bridge, including the foundation, substructure, and superstructure, is actually made of cement. As a result, concrete saws form an essential part of bridge construction tools.

Light Towers

Since construction workers work day and night to meet project timelines, they need light towers to provide maximum onsite visibility during the night. This helps to enhance safety, preventing accidents at a time of highly reduced visibility.

Light towers also provide additional visibility in sections of the bridge that are not well-lit during the daytime.

Safety is a crucial element in bridge construction, as it helps save lives, time and reduces overall project costs. As such, light towers form an extremely vital component in successful bridge construction.

Miscellaneous Construction Equipment

While the last three types of construction equipment are not necessarily used to construct the bridge, they are still necessary for successful bridge construction. They include a pressure washer, generator, and protective equipment.

Let’s discuss these further.

Pressure Washers

An enormous amount of dust, dirt, and debris accumulates on the bridge structure during construction. Afterward, pressure washers help get rid of this debris, leaving the bridge clean and ready for use.


Generators are not bridge construction equipment per se, but they play a crucial role in serving equipment that requires electricity to run. They also power construction trailers which serve as temporary offices for the construction personnel.

Portable generators are particularly convenient since you can move them between different site points.

Protective Equipment

To enhance personal safety and prevent bridge construction accidents, workers need to use protective gear and equipment. It’s also crucial for them to use proper equipment for the right job, such as bridge access equipment when accessing hard-to-reach parts of the bridge.

Some of the equipment includes:

  • Fire control tools like fire blanketing.
  • Protective footwear, gloves, and hard hats.
  • High-visibility safety equipment like reflective clothing.
  • Eye and face protection tools like face shields and safety glasses.
  • Signage and barriers to control traffic near bridge construction sites.

Final Thoughts

As we have seen, bridge construction involves different tools and equipment, with most serving a specific purpose. Using the right equipment for the right job is therefore important in producing efficient, safe, and durable bridges.

If you manage a bridge construction project, you might want to use newer equipment models as they sport enhanced safety features and advanced technology. As a result, they help maximize productivity while creating sturdy bridges that last for years.

While this can be expensive, it’s possible to rent bridge construction equipment at a lower cost.



What materials are used in construction of a bridge? ›

Bridge materials. Some of the main materials found on a bridge are steel, concrete, stone and asphalt. Other materials include iron, timber, aluminum, rubber and other joint materials.

Which technique used in the construction of a bridge? ›

The highly-mechanized Incremental Launching Method (ILM) is typically performed in a series of increments. It is used in the construction of continuous concrete bridges as well as with steel girder bridges.

What is important when building a bridge? ›

Durability. Durability is crucial when building a bridge for pedestrian traffic. A bridge should be able to withstand the harsh environment it's built in. This might mean adding fortification for flooding or using stronger materials to ensure longevity.

What instruments use a bridge? ›

The bridge is one of the parts of a violin, cello or other string instrument which has a tremendous effect on its sound. There is a simple reason for this: the bridge transfers the vibrations of the strings to the body of the instrument.

What three materials were the first bridges made of? ›

Bridge types by material

Until the end of the 18th century, bridges were made out of timber, stone and masonry. Modern bridges are currently built in concrete, steel, fiber reinforced polymers (FRP), stainless steel or combinations of those materials.

What is beam bridge building materials? ›

Pre-stressed concrete is an ideal material for beam bridge construction; the concrete withstands the forces of compression well and the steel rods imbedded within resist the forces of tension. Pre-stressed concrete also tends to be one of the least expensive materials in construction.

What is the cost of materials needed to build a bridge? ›

The bridge material determines the cost, size, intended use (i.e., only pedestrian or light vehicle traffic), safety, labor required, and location. In general, the average price of a 20 linear foot fiber-reinforced polymer Truss Bridge is $10,000.

What are the two most important forces when building a bridge? ›

In suspension bridges, tension forces are most important, while in arch bridges, compression forces are what matter. Tension forces pull and stretch material in opposite directions, allowing a rope bridge to support itself and the load it carries.

What is the first step in building a bridge? ›

Construction of the foundations is the first step toward building a bridge. This process involves detailed geotechnical investigations of the bridge site. The type of bridge foundation has to be selected, such as the well foundation, pile foundation, and the opened foundation.

What to do before building a bridge? ›

Planning for Bridge Construction including Sequence and Steps of Planning
  1. Study on need for Bridge.
  2. Traffic Assessment for Bridge Construction.
  3. Location Study for Bridge Construction.
  4. Reconnaissance Survey for Bridge Construction.
  5. Preliminary Engineering for Bridge Construction.
Feb 13, 2017

What is the most important part of a bridge? ›

The main part of a bridge is its superstructure. The superstructure bears the weight of the load as it passes through the bridge. It comprises the deck slab, girders, truss, etc. The specific components vary based on the type of bridge and its materials such as concrete or steel.

What holds a bridge up? ›

Pile: A pile is a vertical support structure that's used, in part, to hold up a bridge. It can be made of wood, concrete, or steel. A pile is hammered into the soil beneath the bridge until the end of it reaches the hard sub layer of compacted soil or rock below.

What is the use of bridge device? ›

A bridge is a network device that connects multiple subnetworks to create a single network. It provides interconnection with other computer networks that use the same protocol. Through a bridge, multiple LANs can be connected to form a larger and extended LAN.

What device or instrument features a bridge and a saddle? ›

A steel string acoustic guitar is made up of three parts: a bridge, a saddle, and a bridge pin. The material of the bridge itself is also important because it determines which materials will be best for each component. The vibrations of the strings are transferred to the soundboard via a bridge.

What is bridge in instrumentation? ›

If the electrical components are arranged in the form a bridge or ring structure, then that electrical circuit is called a bridge. In general, bridge forms a loop with a set of four arms or branches. Each branch may contain one or two electrical components.

What makes a bridge strong and stable? ›

Trusses help a bridge spread out the weight that it has to carry. But not all bridges are made of trusses. If a bridge has to cross a really wide body of water, it might be too difficult or expensive to build a truss bridge. So engineers designed another kind of bridge called a suspension bridge.

What are the 5 main bridge types? ›

Five main types of Bridges
  • Beam Bridges.
  • Integral Beam Bridges.
  • Cantilever Bridges.
  • Arch Bridges.
  • Cable-stayed Bridges.
Mar 21, 2022

What is one thing that all bridges have in common? ›

They can be used as sort of a helper for many types of bridges. What is it most commonly made of? In all modern suspension bridges, the roadway hangs from massive steel cables, which are draped over two towers and secured into solid concrete blocks, called 'anchorages', at both ends of the bridge.

What are bridge columns made of? ›

There are different methods employed for bridge column casing such as steel casing, concrete casing, fiber reinforced plastic composite casing, and wire wrap casing.

What type of steel is used in bridges? ›

Three categories of structural steel are often used for steel bridge construction including carbon steel, high-strength steels, and heat-treated carbon steels (Kumar and Kumar, 2014).

Which beam is used in building construction? ›

Reinforced concrete beam

These are the most widely used beams in construction. Reinforced concrete is advantageous as it can take high compressive stresses. These beams take loads from walls and slabs and transmit them to columns. Reinforced concrete beams carry vertical and horizontal loads.

How much does bridge bearing cost? ›

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Which cement is used for bridges? ›

Ordinary Portland Cement 53 Grade

This cement is used with a higher concrete grade than M30 for both general purposes and for building bridges, roads, multi-storied building works, etc. In 28 days of curing, they attain the minimum compression strength of 53 Mega-Pascal.

What concrete is used in bridges? ›

When it comes to constructing bridges that need to absorb shock and impact, prestressed concrete is the best choice. Prestressed concrete is also usually preferred for heavily loaded structures, due to its lighter weight compared to that of reinforced concrete.

What are the 4 stages of bridge design? ›

The design process of a bridge can be divided into four basic stages: conceptual design, preliminary design, detailed design and construction design.

What four things must be considered before beginning construction of a bridge? ›

The following eight areas (or disciplines) are necessary when first beginning a bridge project:
  • Survey.
  • Geotechnical Engineering.
  • Civil Engineering.
  • FEMA Permitting (Hydrology and Hydraulics) and Environmental.
  • Traffic Engineering.
  • Right of Way.
  • Utility Coordination.
  • Bridge Engineering.
Feb 1, 2022

What are the six basic bridge forms? ›

There are six basic bridge forms: the beam, the truss, the arch, the suspension, the cantilever, and the cable-stay.

What is usually the strongest part of bridge? ›

With the bridge#s designs researched and tested, it was determined that the truss is the strongest bridge, with arch the second, and span/beam dramatically weaker than the other two.

What is the most common type of bridge used in construction today? ›

Beam Bridges

The most popular bridge in existence is the multiple beam bridge. Most span approximately 40-100 feet and consist of steel or prestressed concrete beams that are supported by abutments or piers. The beams can have a variety of shapes such as I-sections, T-sections, or box sections.

What is the best material to use to build a bridge? ›

Best Material for Bridges: Steel

Its strength and permanence are ideal for long-lasting structures, like bridges. The use of steel for bridges replaced earlier materials such as wood, concrete and stone.

How many levels are in build a bridge? ›

Offering over 80 levels across three unique worlds, there is a lot to get your teeth into with 'Build a Bridge! ' The 'realistic physics engine' is on point, delivering a set of gameplay mechanics which are thought-provoking and logical in their delivery.

How many part does the construction of the bridge? ›

The main components of a bridge are the foundation, substructure, and the superstructure. Each of these core areas have other parts within them. Piles and pile caps are constructed as the foundation of the bridge.

How do they stop water to build a bridge? ›

Temporary foundation: When water is shallow, workers create a temporary foundation that holds piers, which support the upper structure. This provides a solid platform for the bridge to be made. Case drilling: This complex technique requires a water-tight chamber with a sealed tube fitted inside it.

What is the best material to build a bridge? ›

Best Material for Bridges: Steel

Its strength and permanence are ideal for long-lasting structures, like bridges. The use of steel for bridges replaced earlier materials such as wood, concrete and stone.

What material is required to make a cemented bridge? ›

Cement bridges are built using , bricks, and cement.

What type of concrete is used in bridges? ›

When it comes to constructing bridges that need to absorb shock and impact, prestressed concrete is the best choice. Prestressed concrete is also usually preferred for heavily loaded structures, due to its lighter weight compared to that of reinforced concrete.

Which materials were used to construct bridges in olden days? ›

Materials. The four primary materials used for bridges have been wood, stone, iron, and concrete. Of these, iron has had the greatest effect on modern bridges. From iron, steel is made, and steel is used to make reinforced and prestressed concrete.

What is strength of materials in building construction? ›

Strength of Building Materials

The capacity of a material to resist failure caused by loads acting on it is called as strength. The load may be compressive, tensile or bending. It is determined by dividing the ultimate load taken by the material with its cross sectional area.

What is the strongest way to build a bridge? ›

Look at a steel or wooden bridge and often you will see triangle shapes making up most of the bridge's support structure. These are called truss bridges. Triangles are structurally the strongest shape because they allow weight to be evenly spread throughout a structure, allowing it to support heavy loads.

What type of steel is used for bridges? ›

Three categories of structural steel are often used for steel bridge construction including carbon steel, high-strength steels, and heat-treated carbon steels (Kumar and Kumar, 2014).

What types of steel are used in bridge construction? ›

S355 steel is predominantly used in highway bridge applications, as it is readily available, and generally gives the optimum balance between stiffness and strength. S275 steel is often used on railway bridges, where stiffness rather than strength governs the design, or where fatigue is the critical design case.

What foundation do bridges use? ›

Piling. The most common way to construct a deep foundation for a bridge is called piling. Long, narrow posts called piles are hoisted into the air by a crane and driven into the ground by a large hammer called a piledriver (not that piledriver). After the pile reaches the required depth, it is capped off and tied.

What type of rebar is used in bridges? ›

Stainless steel rebar, offering a good combination of high strength, toughness, ductility and fatigue resistance, along with corrosion resistance, has been used for construction of bridges and other structures in areas of high seismicity.

What type of stone is used in bridges? ›

Ashlar Stone refers to a masonry style using highly dressed stones cut and form into cuboid shapes. It has been around for centuries and is still used today for buildings, bridges and other stone structures.

How did they build bridges in old times? ›

The first bridges were natural of huge rock arch that spans. The first man-made bridges were tree trunks laid across streams in girder fashion, flat stones, and festoons of vegetation, twisted or braided and hung in suspension. Bridges of twisted vines and creepers were found in many parts of India.

What are the two primary materials used in the construction of the Golden Gate bridge? ›

The bridge's foundations in both the land and sea were made from concrete as well as the providing structure on the steel spans for the road.

Which metal is largely used in the construction of buildings bridges? ›

Iron is used in the construction of bridges.


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