Integral Bridge | Types of Integral Bridge | Advantages & Disadvantages of Integral Bridge

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  1. Introduction  

An integral bridge may be defined as a bridge without any joints.

Precisely, an integral bridge is the type of bridge that does not have any joint between spans or between spans and abutments.

On account of this, the integral bridge does not essentially consist of an expansion joint to accommodate the enlargements due to temperature increase.

There are 4 types of integral bridges which are explained below.

An example of an integral bridge is the typical masonry arch bridge.

Since such a bridge does not have any joint, the deflections or movement due to subsequent expansion or contraction as well as braking load is accounted by the end walls of the abutment.

The history of integral bridges dates back to 1959 in the United Kingdom.


  2. Importance   

Some of the main importance of the integral bridge can be listed as follows:

1. Integral bridge greatly reduces maintenance needs than a conventional bridge.

2. Such bridge offers greater durability than other jointed bridges.

3. The integral bridge can serve as an economical highway bridge in the long run.


  3. Types of Integral Bridge  

Based on the types of the abutment, an integral bridge can be categorized into the following:


i. Integral Bridge with Frame Abutment

An integral bridge with frame abutment is similar to a portal frame structure.

It may be defined as the type of integral bridge in which the axial forces, shear forces, and moments are transferred directly from the deck of the bridge to the supporting structure.

The backfill is also retained by the frames of abutment similar to the retaining wall.

In this bridge, embedded wall footing and spread footing is preferred as the foundation.

During subsequent thermal expansion or contraction, the beams on the deck react. The reaction results in a horizontal displacement. Thus, the abutments must be constructed with some flexibility to prevent the displacement on foundations.

Due to this reason, stiff reinforced concrete abutment must not be used. Instead, sheet piles may be used as a foundation.


ii. Integral Bridge with Bank Pad Abutment

The integral bridge with bank pad abutment is similar to the stiff portal type construction.

This type of bridge consists of end supports that are fully integrated with the deck beams.

During thermal expansion or contraction, these supports can freely slide and can freely rotate due to the bending moment from the deck beams.

Such types of movements i.e. sliding and rotation can considerably affect the bearing capacity of the soil underneath.

Thus, to account for this, the serviceability limit states are kept lower than the normal static values.

The backfill is filled behind the end screen wall formed by the bank pad abutment.

It must be noted that the width of the end screen wall must be kept the same as that of the pavement constructed above it.


iii. Integral Bridge with Flexible Support Abutment

An integral bridge with flexible support abutment is constructed with piles as the foundation.

Generally, post holes are created around the pile and up to the depth of the pile.

The reason for creating the hole is to allow the space for the movement of the pile due to thermal expansion or contraction.

Hence, the hole must provide sufficient space for the horizontal pile movement eliminating the soil-foundation interaction.

Such a hole is commonly constructed using precast concrete rings for larger size pipes and polythene for smaller size pipes.

The pipes must be essentially checked for buckling from time to time. For this purpose, a duct for inspection is created in the hole.

Integral Bridges


iv. Integral Bridge with Semi-Integral End Screen Abutment

It consists of deck beams and the end screen walls integral with each other.

However, the end screen walls, in this case, do not provide support to the deck beams.

An arrangement of bearings is provided to resist the horizontal displacement.

In such a bridge, the support is constructed separately eliminating soil –
substructure interaction.


  4. Advantages of Integral Bridge  

Some of the advantages of an integral bridge can be listed as follows:

1. The integral bridge is cheaper in comparison to the conventional bridges. The maintenance cost is also relatively less.

2. The construction process of such a bridge is simple as well as rapid.

3. The absence of expansion joints makes the surface smoother enhancing the riding quality.

4. When an integral bridge is constructed in place of an old bridge, the same foundation may be used. Thus, the cost of construction can be greatly reduced.

5. The drainage system may be easily provided behind the integral abutments thereby preventing leakage.


  5. Disadvantages of Integral Bridge  

Some of the disadvantages of integral bridges can be listed as follows:

1. It is not suitable in areas with temperature fluctuations or variations greater than 51mm.

2. When the pile foundation is used, there is a high possibility of the formation of plastic hinges under high stresses of expansion and contraction.

3. This bridge is not suitable in regions where the subsoil is weak.

4. The span of the integral bridge is limited. In the case of steel girder integral bridges, the length is limited to 40m and up to 50m for concrete girder bridges.


  5. Limitations of Integral Bridge  

Some limitations of the integral bridge are:

a. It is not suitable at the zone where the expansion or contraction is more than 51 mm.

b. When subsoil or embankments have poor strength, this bridge is not prefered.


Read Also: Components of Bridge
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