Steel Decking

An orthotropic bridge or orthotropic deck is one whose deck typically comprises a structural steel deck plate stiffened either longitudinally or transversely, or in both directions. This allows the deck both to directly bear vehicular loads and to contribute to the bridge structure’s overall load-bearing behaviour. The orthotropic deck may be integral with or supported on a grid of deck framing members such as floor beams and girders.

The same is also true of the concrete slab in a composite girder bridge, but the steel orthotropic deck is considerably lighter, and therefore allows longer span bridges to be more efficiently designed.

The stiffening elements can serve several functions simultaneously. They enhance the bending resistance of the plate to allow it to carry local wheel loads and distribute those loads to main girders. They also increase the total cross-sectional area of steel in the plate, which can increase its contribution to the overall bending capacity of the deck (i.e. the deck plate acts as a top flange in a box or I beam girder). Finally, the stiffeners increase the resistance of the plate to buckling.

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