Steel Beam Application: Steel Bridge Abutments

A steel bridge abutment is a structure at the end of a bridge that supports its superstructure. Most bridges have abutments at each end that provide support both vertically and laterally across the span of the bridge, as well as retaining walls that enable the bridge to resist lateral movements.

Steel bridge abutments are created using driven steel piles. These piles are driven to the required depth to support the bridge. After steel piles are driven into the earth, the portion of the beam above the ground is braced and topped with a pier cap to create a pile bent that supports the superstructure.

Steel beams: wide flange, h-oile, and more

The piles used to construct bridge abutments are created using steel beams, such as wide flange beams and H-pile. Both of these beam types include a central web that connects two parallel end units known as flanges. While the flanges in a standard beam are relatively narrow, those in wide flange beams and h-pile are broader, sometimes even equal in length to the height of the web. Wide flange and h-pile beams have high loadbearing capacity while also being light in weight, which is what makes them a popular choice for construction projects such as steel bridge abutments.

Materials Used to Make Steel Bridge Abutments

Steel is the most common material used to make the beams used in steel bridge abutments. Specifically, carbon structural steel and high-strength, low-alloy structural steel are used. Steel is favored because it’s highly customizable, durable, easy to work with, and long lasting.

Wide Flange and H-Pile Capacity for Steel Bridge Abutments

Both wide flange beams and h-pile have a high weightbearing capacity when compared to standard beams, as well as the ability to provide better weight distribution over a wider area. Because of this, wide flange beams and h-pile can support larger and heavier structures such as bridges. Individual piles have been tested to withstand loads of 1,000 tons.

Common Sizes for Bridge Abutment Beams

Small wide flange beams and h-pile are the most common beams used to create bridge abutments. Common sizes include:

  • W8: W8x18, W8x21, W8x24, W8x28, W8x31, W8x35, W8x40, W8x48, W8x58, W8x67

  • W10: W10x22, W10x26, W10x30, W10x33, W10x39, W10x45, W10x49, W10x54, W10x60, W10x68, W10x77, W10x88, W10x100, W10x112

  • W12: W12x26, W12x30, W12x35, W12x40, W12x45, W12x50, W12x53, W12x58 ,W12x65, W12x72, W12x79, W12x87, W12x96, W12x106, W26x120, W12x136, W12x152, W12x170, W12x190, W12x210, W12x230, W12x252

  • W14: W14x22, W14x26, W14x30, W14x34, W14x38, W14x43, W14x48, W14x53, W14x61, W14x68, W14x74, W14x82, W14x90, W14x99, W14x109, W14x120, W14x132, W14x145, W14x159, W14x176, W14x193, W14x211, W14x233, W14x257, W14x283

  • W16: W16x26, W16x31, W16x36, W16x40, W16x45, W16x50, W16x57, W16x67, W16x77, W16x89, W16x100

  • W18: W18x35, W18x40, W18x46, W18x50, W18x55, W18x60, W18x65, W18x71, W18x76, W18x86, W18x97, W18x106, W18x119, W18x130, W18x143, W18x158, W18x175, W18x192, W18x211, W18x234

  • W21: W21x44, W21x50, W21x57, W21x58, W21x55, W21x62, W21x68, W21x73, W21x83, W21x93, W21x101, W21x111, W21x122, W21x132, W21x147, W21x166, W21x182, W21x201, W21x223, W21x248, W21x275

  • W24: W24x55, W24x62, W24x68, W24x76, W24x84, W24x94, W24x103, W24x204, W24x117, W24x131, W24x146, W24x162, W24x176, W24x192, W24x207, W24x229

  • W27: W27x84, W27x94, W27x102, W27x114, W27x129, W27x146, W27x161, W27x178, W27x194

  • W30: W30x90, W30x99, W30x108, W30x116, W30x124, W30x132, W30x148

  • W33: W33x118, W33x130, W33x141, W33x152, W33x169

  • W36: W36x135, W36x150, W36x160, W36x170, W36x182, W36x194, W36x210, W36x232, W36x256

  • HP8: HP8x36

  • HP10: HP10x42, HP10x57

  • HP12: HP12x53, HP12x63, HP12x74, HP12x84, HP12x89, HP12x102, HP12x117

  • HP14: HP14x73, HP14x89, HP14x102, HP14x117

  • HP16: HP16x88, HP16x101, HP16x121, HP16x141, HP16x162, HP16x183


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