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# Bridges vs Viaducts

Bridges and viaducts serve the same purpose, and there are many
opinions about their similarities or their differences. Dictionaries, like
Chambers Thesaurus consider them synonyms. Some say viaducts
are types of bridges; meaning all bridges are not viaducts but all
viaducts are bridges. Lets find out with the help of some facts what the
differences could be between bridges and viaducts.
Bridges
Bridges are structures which are built to cross physical obstacles like a
valley, water, or road. There are six primary types of bridges, and their
designs are according to the function they serve, the material used,
and the terrain over which the construction of the bridge takes place.
The six main types of bridges are:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

## Beam bridgesThey have horizontal beams supported by

abutments at each end. Beam bridges are typically not more than 250
feet long.
Arch bridgesThey have abutments at both the ends. The weight
of the structure is supported by abutments on both sides.
Cantilever bridgesThey are built with cantilevers, horizontal
beams which are supported on only one side.
Suspension bridgesThey use cables for suspension.
Cable bridgesThey are like suspension bridges but less cable is
required. The towers which hold the cables are shorter than
suspension bridges.
Truss bridgesThey are built of connected elements which are
straight.
Bridges are classified depending upon how the tension, torsion,
compression, shear, and bending force distribute themselves through

## the bridge structure. Some of these forces are predominant in

particular bridges though all the other forces are also in play. For
example, Tension plays the most important role in a suspension
bridge.

Source; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Akashi-kaikyo_bridge3.jpg
Viaducts are a type of bridge that are made of multiple small spans.
They have arches in a series. All arches are of almost the same length.
They may be built over water or land. When made on land, they
typically connect two points which have similar heights.
They are also popular in cities which have railroad centers like;
London, Chicago, Birmingham, Atlanta, etc. They are built for the
crossing of freight trains over railroad yards and the railroad line
which are multi-tracked. They are also used for railroads to cross large
valleys or cities with multiple avenues and cross streets. Some viaducts
are double-decked, meaning one deck has rail traffic while the other
deck has road traffic.
When built over water, they have to be combined with other tunnels
and bridges. They are cheaper to build than bridges and tunnels which

have large spans, and their height does not allow large ship clearance.

Summary:
Bridges are structures which span over land, water, or roads to
facilitate crossing; viaducts are types of bridges which usually carry a
railroad over the same terrain, but it is not always true.
Viaducts have one or more arches and intermediate supports; bridges
are of many types, and they dont necessarily have intermediate
supports or arches.
Viaducts are cheaper to build. Their size sometimes does not allow
clearance for big ships. Bridges are of all sizes. They can be long
enough to connect two islands and high enough to allow any ship to
sail under them.

## Read more: Difference Between Bridges and Viaducts | Difference

Between | Bridges vs

## Viaduct, type of long bridge or series of bridges, usually supported by a series of

arches or on spans between tall towers. The purpose of a viaduct is to carry a road or
railway over water, a valley, or another road. The viaduct is both functionally and
etymologically related to the aqueduct, which carries water; both were developed by
Roman engineers.
The long spans of Roman viaducts were supported by semicircular arches resting on
piers of stone or masonry. A well-preserved example is the span over the Tagus River at
Alcantara, Spain (c. AD 105). The next advance in viaduct construction did not occur
until the late 18th-century development of iron bridges and the 19th-century introduction
of steel.
In the early 20th century the spread of reinforced-concrete construction led to the
building of concrete arch structures such as the Colorado Street viaduct over the
Pasadena Freeway in California (1938). A recent method used on long viaducts is
segmental construction. The sections are precast and jacked forward from one end of
the viaduct to form the extension.