Bridge Loads An international perspective


Bridge Loads An international perspective

  • Failure
  • Design philosophies
  • Codes of practice
  • Selection of primary loads and load factors
  • Multiple presence, progressive failure and fatigue
  • Dynamic vehicle loads
  • Light rail
  • Pedestrian and cycle loads
  • Barrier and railing loads
  • Stream loads
  • Wind, earthquake and temperature effects

A bridge may be defined as a structure used to carry loads over an opening,
which may take the form of a valley or stream, a road or railway. One way to
cross a valley is to build an embankment which effectively closes the opening.
Such a structure is not a bridge, and it is important to recognise that the
opening crossed by the bridge generally performs a function in itself, which
must be maintained.

The loads mentioned in this definition include the weights of trucks and
pedestrians for a road bridge, and of locomotives and rolling stock for a railway
bridge. These will be called primary loads, for they express the purpose for which
the bridge was required. There are other senses in which the term ‘load’ may be
qualified, such as in the terms ‘service’, ‘design’ and ‘legal’ loads. The second of
these is of paramount importance in this book, for before a bridge can be built it
is necessary for the designer to choose design loads that are used for the selection
of member sizes. However, the choice of design loads cannot be separated from a
study of the other two: the service loads, applied to the bridge during its service
life, and the legal limits, intended to govern these loads.


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