Arch bridges are one of the classic architectural components that you can see throughout much of modern human history. Many of the arch structures that inspired modern architecture originated in the Roman Empire. By incorporating arches into a bridge design, there are some definite advantages that can be gained to improve the overall structure. There are also some disadvantages that must be considered during the construction process. Here are the pros and cons of building an arch bridge.
The Pros of Building Arch Bridges
They Can Provide Higher Levels Of Resistance
The curved design of the arch gives it an unnatural strength point. The curvature of the structure allows you to have a higher level of resistance to bending forces that might try to modify the bridge. Because both ends of the arch are fixed, the horizontal forces that are placed on it, like from driving, are displaced equally.
They Can Be Made From Virtually Anything
You can make an arch bridge from stone, bricks, or virtually any other natural material that can withstand a force of compression. This allows local communities to build bridges using their own materials without the use of iron works for steelworks that may not be available to them.
They Become Stronger The More They Work.
Arch bridges are built to compress. When this compression occurs, actually becomes drunker than when the bridge was first built. Because of this, many arch bridges also have a lot of dead weight placed above each arch that is incorporated into the architectural design so that loads can be supported through the natural strength gaining process.
The Cons of Building Arch Bridges
The Spans Of The Bridge Are Limited
Arches have a natural starting point in a natural ending point. You can calculate how much weight they can stand based on the size of the arch and the scope of the materials being used. Arch bridges can only be a certain size, so either multiple arches have to be built into the foundation of the bridge or other reinforcement materials must be included to support the necessary loads the bridge will face.
They Require Extra Maintenance
Because natural materials are generally what are used to create arch bridges, the flexibility that this design has also a disadvantage. The bridge will flex and move under wind loads and this causes the mortar that combine the natural materials together to crack and disintegrate over time. This means ongoing maintenance must occur more often, adding additional potential costs to the life of the bridge.
They Can Take A Long Time To Build
Arch bridges have to be built in a specific way in order for them to work. This means that it can take a long time for a bridge to be completed. This is especially true if natural materials are being used to create the bridge. Although their lifespans can be much longer when compared to other bridges, the lengthy construction time can sometimes be a detriment.
Arch bridges look beautiful and they serve a specific function. They are strong and help people get to where they need to go. By weighing the pros and cons of arch bridges, every community can decide on their own if this is the right type of architectural construction to use for their next project.