Three Myths.. and the Reality… of Steel Bridges

There are a lot of “myths”or misconceptions surrounding the use of steel in bridge construction. These myths often arise out of past experience and don’t take into account changes in technology, improvements in materials and products or updated design and construction practices.

MYTH # 1: Steel Is Not Recommended For Short Spans.

REALITY: Due to changing designs and prices for both steel and concrete members, the relative economics of span and cost of each material has also changed. In many cases, the most economical steel span may be close to or the same as for the concrete design.  The Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance has developed standard designs and details to further simplify the process.  In addition, they have created a program called eSPAN140 which provides economical customized solutions for bridges under 140’

MYTH # 2: Optimization by weight is the best approach to economical design.

REALITY: Although this may be true in some cases, savings in material may sometimes be more than offset by increases in fabrication cost; in certain instances, adding weight may provide the least cost solution.

MYTH # 3: Modular prefabricated short-span steel bridges are only temporary structures.

REALITY: Modular prefabricated short-span bridges, as compared with so-called panel bridges, are typically permanent structures.

For more information on these and other myths, visit

About Rich Tavoletti

Rich Tavoletti is Director of the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance. He is also Director of the Container Market program for the Steel Market Development Institute, a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute, and Executive Director of the Canned Food Alliance. Rich has extensive experience in marketing and communications. He was marketing manager at the Steel Recycling Institute. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He can be reached at
This entry was posted in Bridge Design Economics, Modular Bridges, Prefabricated Bridges, Short Span Bridges, Steel Bridges, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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