Last edited 09 Jan 2019


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A bridge is a spanning structure that creates a passage over an obstacle such as a river, gorge, valley, road, railway and so on.

Bridges are a common feature of the built environment and one of the key elements of civil engineering. The basic principles of bridge design are dependent on the nature of the spanning structure; its shape, materials, means of support, distance spanned, terrain, function, budget, exposure and so on.

The three basic types of bridge structure are:

For more information about the different types of bridges and construction methods, see Bridge construction.

For information about some of the most famous bridges, see Bridges of the world.

Other articles on Designing Buildings Wiki about bridges, include:


  • A green bridge is a crossing that allows the safe passage of wildlife.
  • An overbridge is a bridge crossing over a transport corridor.
  • An underbridge is a bridge crossing under a transport corridor such as a railway.
  • A viaduct is a bridge like structure composed of a series of spans, used to carry roads and railways across valleys and other depressions.
  • The span of a bridge is the horizontal distance between its supports.
  • The underside of a bridge is described as a 'soffit'.
  • The surface of a bridge which allows passage is describes as a 'deck'.

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