Earth Day 2023

Steel Bridges Provide Environmental Advantages

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Earth Day 2023: Exploring the Environmental Benefits of Steel Bridges

Did you know that structural steel bridges have many environmental advantages compared to other types of bridges? 

For Earth Day 2023, we have pulled together information from various sources highlighting ways in which steel bridges support the environment through sustainability and design.

  1. Recycling - Demand for steel scrap is so high that virtually 100% of it is recycled instead of sent to landfills. New steel for bridges contains recycled steel from sources such as old cars that would otherwise mar the landscape. 

  2. Longer Spans - With steel’s ability to support longer span lengths, a steel bridge can cost-effectively cross over streams, lakes, wetlands, and environmentally protected areas with fewer bridge piers. The result? Less environmental impact on wildlife and environmentally sensitive areas during and after construction.

  3. Longer Life Span - Modern steel corrosion resistance solutions provide a longer life span to steel bridges than in the past and lengthen the time between structural rehabilitation projects that may affect air quality and impact environmentally sensitive areas.

  4. Lighter Weight - Steel’s lighter weight allows cranes to reach further during erection, allowing placement further back from streams and rivers. Also, for shorter span lengths, steel erectors can use smaller, lighter cranes and other equipment than they would need to handle equivalent concrete beams.

  5. Reuse - When old steel bridges are demolished, steel components that are not sent to be recycled can be cleaned of contaminants and reused to support artificial reefs. Pieces of old bridges may also be repurposed for use in other structures.  

Ready to learn more?   We recommend the following resources.

Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance:  The American Steel Industry: Meeting the Global Demand for a Sustainable Infrastructure and Educated Workforce

National Steel Bridge Alliance: Why Steel Bridges?