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Bridge Design Elements: Introduction

A view of the bridge side. (Oregon Coast Highway, OR) "...bridges are viewed from two perspectives. Traveling over the bridge deck, the driver of a vehicle sees the travelway, bridge railings, and the view to either side. If the bridge crosses over another roadway, water or land both on its side and underneath can also be viewed from this perspective. It is important for bridge designers to keep in mind that these two perspectives may require consideration of additional aesthetic treatments for the bridge." In addition to determining the geometrics of a bridge, designers must consider many design elements. Basically, bridges are viewed from two perspectives. Traveling over the bridge deck, the driver of a vehicle sees the travelway, bridge railings, and the view to either side. If the bridge crosses over another roadway, water or land both on its side and underneath can also be viewed from this perspective. It is important for bridge designers to keep in mind that these two perspectives may require consideration of additional aesthetic treatments for the bridge.

For the design of the bridge deck, the major components include the width of the travelway and shoulders and pedestrian and other nonvehicular accomodations, as mentioned above. Other components include railings, lighting fixtures, and other design details. For the side of the bridge, the major components include the piers, the side facia, abutments, and wing walls. In addition, the bridge railings and other fixtures selected for the top of the bridge will also play a design role for the side, because they can be seen from below.


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