Understanding the Invention, Construction, and Mechanics of a Suspension Bridge

Understanding the Invention, Construction, and Mechanics of a Suspension Bridge

A suspension bridge is a bridge that has overhead cables supporting the roadway. Though they are made strong enough to bear the load of freight trains but are used for automobile traffic only. In modern times, they are built with pleasing aesthetics and light in weight. While talking about the longest suspension bridge in the world at present, it is Akashi Kaikyō Bridge (1,991 meters) in Japan followed by three other suspension bridges in China namely, Yangsigang Yangtze River Bridge (1,700 meters), Nansha Bridge (1,688 meters), and Xihoumen Bridge (1,650 meters). Well, China has the majority of suspension bridges in the world.

Mechanics and form of a suspension bridge

When it comes to the form and mechanics of suspension bridges, they carry vertical loads with the support of curved cables in tension. Further, these loads are transferred to both the anchorages and towers. In order to prevent excessive moving of the deck under loading, the deck is made heavy and stiff.

To understand the construction of a suspension bridge, it is constructed over a water body. The base of it is formed by sinking caissons (made of wood or metal) into the riverbed, which is then stuffed with concrete. Earlier the suspension bridge towers were usually of stone but in the modern world, they are all made up of either concrete or steel. In addition, the anchorages are constructed on both ends and are embedded with steel eyebars. The cables are then fastened to these eyebars. In earlier times, these cables were built with linked wrought iron eyebars but today, they are made of steel wires spun together. Moreover, the spinning is made possible by rope pulleys that are further responsible for carrying each of the wires across the top of the towers to the anchorage. To prevent wires from getting rusted or corroded, they are bundled and covered. In this way, a suspension bridge is constructed. At last, the suspenders are hung and the deck is erected. Note that, there are different types of suspension bridges including a simple suspension bridge, underspanned suspension bridge, stressed ribbon bridge, suspended-deck suspension bridge, and self-anchored suspension bridge. They are built according to the requirement.

Some prominent advantages of suspension bridges

  • Suspension bridges can cover long spans and are affordable to construct
  • They become the major landmark for many communities and attract tourists
  • When compared to other styles of bridges, suspension bridges are easy to maintain
  • They provide more flexibility with the configuration and the bridge design needs only a little access from the deck bottom
  • Suspension bridges are made in a lesser time when compared to other bridge designs

So, now that you have gained much knowledge about suspension bridges, you can go ahead and read about different suspension bridges in detail to broaden your general knowledge. All the best!