According to the dictionary, a bridge is: “a structure carrying a road, path, railroad or canal across a river, ravine, road, railroad or other obstacle”.
That’s a basic and accurate description of a bridge to be sure, but here at the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, we think of bridges as something more than just a structure crossing a span. We think of bridges as a special type of infrastructure. Bridges inspire. Bridges open possibilities. Bridges connect. To us, bridges are a pretty big deal.
Because British Columbia is so geographically diverse and because bridge engineering evolves over time, you will see a variety of bridge types being used in BC. In order to span a crossing, a bridge must have support. That support system can be above or below the bridge deck. Bridges can be constructed out of steel, wood, metal or concrete or a combination of these materials. With these basic ideas in mind, we would like to introduce you to some general types of bridges used in BC.
This is a type of bridge in which the weight of the deck is supported by vertical cables suspended from larger cables that run between towers and are anchored in abutments at each end.
2. Truss Bridges
A truss is a structure built out of tension and compression sections. These sections are arranged in triangular patterns to provide strength and stability. A truss bridge is a bridge with a load carrying superstructure made of trusses. Truss bridges are generally made from either steel or timber or a combination of both. Trusses can be presented on top of the bridge deck (a “through” truss) or under the bridge deck (an “under” truss).
3. Arch Bridges
Are steel or concrete bridges constructed in the form of an arch or arches, typically with concrete abutments.
4. Cable Stayed Bridges
A cable stayed bridge has one or more towers from which cables support the deck.
5. Girder Bridge
A bridge constructed with wood, steel or concrete girders.
6. Floating Bridge
These bridges are sometimes called pontoon bridges and they really do float.
So, now you know some of the basic types of bridges in British Columbia, you can amaze your friends and family with your new found knowledge on your next road trip. Looking for more information on a bridge, or type of bridge which we didn’t cover here? Let us know in the comments below.
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Page 1 of 50 comments on “6 Types of BC Bridges Identified”
I would like to know all concrete bridge decks in BC and who maintains them. Do you have any links I can follow? Thanks.
Hello Nixie – we don’t have a publicly available list of bridge decks by surface but you can view a list of our maintenance contractors here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/transportation-infrastructure/contracting-to-transportation/highway-bridge-maintenance/highway-maintenance/contacts
Hope this is helpful.
Thank you! This is helpful 🙂
Bell 1 Bridge allowable height? We have loads larger than normal coming through because of the closure of the bridge on the Alaska highway being closed. What is the maximum height allowed.
Hi there Neil – please connect with the Provincial Permit Centre
6am to 10pm (PST/PDT)
Seven days a week
During daylight savings time, the Provincial Permit Centre is open from 5am to 9pm (PST).
What is year northbound and southbound bridge built in Campbell River on Highway 19 and what is Correct clearance metres on the southbound truss bridge?
Hello Harry – thanks for your question. We have sent it to our staff in the area and will let you know what we hear back.
Looks like we’ve answered this one before (in June 2021). In case you missed our response then here it is: The southbound structure was built in 1952 and the northbound was completed in 1998. The minimum clearance through the southbound bridge is 5.82 meters.
Currently there are no plans to install clearance signs on this structure, as our standard for placement of overhead warning or clearance signs as outlined in Chapter 3 of the Manual of Standard Traffic Signs and Pavement Markings, is for restrictions 5.0 meters or under.
Hope this helps. Safe travels.
I Found another history about the southbound bridges.
In 1976 they did Modify the bracing to allow additional overhead clearance to allow truckers to fit the bridge
In 1980 The bridge deck is resurfaced.
During the Flooding 2021
What the Bridge name on Coquihalla Highway were Collapsed on the River?
How much is cost to rebuild the collapsed bridge?
Hi there Harry,
Five bridge structures were impacted on the Coquihalla Highway. Brodie Bridge, Juliet Bridge, Bottletop Bridge, Kingsvale East Bridge and Murray Bridge. Total costs to repair are not available at this time. Hope that this information is helpful. Safe travels.
May I ask what is the name of the bridge before Mnt Sicker in Duncan? It is over this river and before the gas station.
Sounds like Chemainus River Bridges. Hope that this helps!
Great article and beautiful bridges; thanks for putting it together. If there is ever another edition of this article, you could add concrete segmental as a bridge type. Tsable River Bridge near Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island is a really nice example.
Glad to hear you like it, Brook! It was a labour of love. 🙂
Are there any plans to restore (or at least stabilize) the exquisite Alexandra Suspension Bridge, built in 1926 to cross the Frazer River? I have walked over this structure a number of times, and have enjoyed the beauty of the structure as well as the stunning scenery around the historic crossing. Since the bridge is approaching its centennial year, it would be lovely to think that it could be preserved for future enjoyment. Thanks
Good morning Will,
The old Alexandra Bridge falls under the jurisdiction of BC Parks. Here’s a link to more information on their master plan, etc. for the park: http://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/alexandra/
Why have some of the steel bridges been left unpainted? Isn’t periodic painting less expensive than longer periodic replacement?
Great question Pete – is there a particular bridge you are wondering about? We will ask our Bridge Engineers.
Unpainted steel bridges are likely made using Cor-ten steel. It’s designed for use in bridges and exposed structures; the outer layer of rust essentially forms a protective coating for the rest of the steel, unlike other steels where corrosion is progressive (and therefore painting is required) Older bridges, particularly in railroad applications aren’t being repainted as frequently anymore either, due to old lead-based paint which has to be removed first and/or newer fall-arrest requirements which make the work more difficult than in the past.
Looks like ‘weathering steel’. Low-carbon steel with nickel content, that resists corrosion and does not need painting – although it can be painted, and I’ve seen steel girder ends done.
And, there are bridges around the province not made of weathering steel that (now) are beginning to look like they are. 😉
The unpainted bridges are fabricated with the use of 350AT “Weathering” steel. The initial oxidation creates a corrosion barrier which inhibits further deterioration.
On the Kiskatinaw question, tranbc how about a comparison and photo of the old kisjatinaw curved bridge, which ist still in use albeit with a load restriction. She’s a beaut!
Good afternoon Rob – we couldn’t find a photo on hand of the old bridge – but we did find images of it in this link: http://ouralaskahighway.com/?portfolio_item=historic-kiskatinaw-bridge
It is beautiful!
What year they build oyster river bridge in highway 19A
Our records indicate that the Oyster River Bridge was built in 1967. Hope that this helps!
How about picture of Little Qualicum Bridge in Highway 19A, Same of old Malakwa bridge.
Thanks for your suggestion Harry.
Another try to pinpoint the ‘coke’ bridge question; is it near the ‘coke’ Summit sign. I saw the Summit sign but could not stop to get a picture of it – happened upon it too suddenly.
It is just passed the summit, heading north. We have sent a snapshot of the bridge sign and approximate location from Google maps to your email. Hope that this helps!
Thanks for the reply but I’m not familiar with your GPS answer of the Dry Gulch bridge location so please re-answer my question where the location of the bridge is, in simple English, thanks.
The bridge is just past the Coquihalla summit, south of Merritt. Hope that his helps.
Before the exit for the 97C?
Ok, and thank you for all the answers. I drove the bridge and didn’t even know it. Maybe an idea would be is to place a sign or something to draw attention to it. I could have stopped for some pictures of it.
But no matter, I had a wonderful and extraordinary first time visit to BC. The view of the Milky Way from the Hope Slide rest area was the most awesome, magnificent site I have ever seen in the night sky. It was like I could reach up and touch heaven – it was that brilliant to see. Thank you God for allowing me to view part of your creation and thank you Canada for allowing me to see part of your beautiful country. I absolutely want to come back.
Glad to hear you loved our beautiful province Mark. I too have seen the Milky Way along BC Highway 3 and will never forget it. And thanks for the suggestion about the bridge, we will share that forward with the local area manager.
What section of the ‘coke’ is Dry Gulch Bridge on? Is it north of Merritt? I drove a portion of the ‘coke’ from Hope to Merritt on my drive to Kelowna in July 2014 but never saw the bridge. I’ve seen it on the Highway Thru Hell program on the Weather Channel. BTW, why is the ‘coke’ labeled as the ‘Highway Thru Hell’ in the first place considering the terrain it’s in is really beautiful to traverse no matter what the season is. Secondly, is BC doing to prevent all those tractor-trailer crashes from the HTH program in the winter on the ‘coke?’
Great questions and thanks for connecting with us to ask them! Dry Gulch Bridge is located at 49° 36′ 58.25″ N 121° 2′ 44.17″ W which means that you must have passed right over it on your trip. The bridge deck belies the beauty of what is found underneath to be sure. And we agree, the Coquihalla, or “the Coq” passes through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world! Part of that beauty is due to the fact that the Coq passes through a high mountain pass making it susceptible to sudden weather changes and at times intense snowfall. When you couple that weather with drivers from the Vancouver area who are not always used to driving in the white stuff, things can get a little tricky. We have created a number of pieces of content for the public to help them better understand the steps they need to take in order to travel the Coquihalla safely.
You can find them here:
Again, thanks for connecting with us here and if you have any other questions about these or any other BC transportation issues, let us know.
Isn’t the Big Qualicum Bridge you show above, on Hwy 19 (the “new” Inland Island Highway)? Route 19A is the old Island Highway.
Good catch. This bridge is on 19, the new Inland Island Highway. Glad to hear you liked the blog!
I wonder why you only mention the newer bridge in Kelowna, but not the old one it replaced (also a floating bridge) which had merits of its own.
Also, why such an old picture of the William R Bennett bridge? the image used, where the new floating bridge is under construction and the old one is still visible (and in operation), is a bit confusing to look at.
I run a Facebook page based around the town of Chemainus and we are having a discussion on when the TCH bridge over the Chemainus River (near Mt Sicker Road) was twinned. We have the date of the original bridge as 1950, now the mystery is on the new twin and when it was built. Any help is appreciated.
Thanks for connecting with us here.
Chemainus River Bridge (East) was constructed in 1980 and you are correct, Chemainus River Bridge (West) was constructed in 1950.
Hope that this helps.
Great pictures! BC’s geography provides many opportunities for beautiful bridges. I once had a conversation with Sir Alexander Gibb, the designer of the original Severn Suspension Bridge in England. I complimented him on the elegance and beauty of the bridge. He replied “for each location there is a bridge design that is appropriate for that specific spot. If you build the right type of bridge, it will always appear beautiful.”
Another bridge I’d nominate is the CPR’s Stony Creek (Steel Arch) Bridge, just east of Rogers Pass.
PS the Park Bridge is actually between Golden and Field, BC.
Glad to hear you like them and what great insight about bridge design and location.
P.S. Thanks also for the heads up on the location.
The Kiskatinaw Bridge looks really cool! I’d be really interested to find out more information on it!
It is a beauty, isn’t it? Anything in particular you would like to know?
Hudson Hope is west of Fort St. John, not north.
Thanks for the catch Tim. We have updated the location. 🙂