Buried Bridge Benefits

Considering concrete? Save time and money with a Structural Plate solution.

Structural Plate offers many advantages over concrete equivalents and traditional site-built beam bridges.

  • Strong, lightweight, easy to ship and install
  • Minimal equipment and labour requirements
  • Lower structure, foundation and installation costs than traditional span or precast bridges and arches
  • Ideal for remote locations
  • Flexible, resilient and greener alternative to concrete
  • Continuous, wide and smooth roadway surface
  • No bridge deck, expansion joints or approaches to maintain
  • Custom-engineered to site requirements
  • Environmentally friendly fish passage solutions
  • Enhanced aesthetic treatments inside and out
    Visit our Buried Metal Bridge Design Ideas Gallery >>
Structural plate arch under construction

Save time and money in all aspects

When comparing structure options, it is important to look at the total project cost — not just the structure-only cost. Everything involved with completing a project should be considered.

  • Steel structure foundation costs can be 40-50% less than that of concrete structures
  • Many cities and counties can build with their own crews and equipment
  • No need for large cranes
  • Many can be assembled in just a few days
  • Cheaper and easier to transport to remote areas than other bridge options
  • No maintenance over the life of the structure
Partially coated buried bridge under construction

Proven technology; easy to construct

  • Many thousands of installations worldwide
  • Much lighter structures than traditional or precast bridges
  • Depending on the project and structure type, the components can be delivered within days or weeks of placing the order
  • Construction of Buried Bridges is also typically faster than traditional bridges or concrete structures
  • Better than traditional bridges when heavy vehicle loads are a factor
Structural plate box culvert under construction

Ideal for Accelerated Bridge Construction

Buried Bridges are an ideal ABC choice due to their speed of design, supply and installation.

  • In most cases, they are essentially designed by the time the project is awarded
  • Approval drawings can be provided quickly
  • Depending on the project and structure type, the components can be delivered within days or weeks of placing the order
  • Construction of Buried Bridges is also typically faster than traditional bridges or concrete structures
Structural plate segment lifted into place

Flexible and resilient structures

The performance of Buried Bridges is unmatched in less-than-ideal foundation conditions.

  • Settlement tolerance is much higher than that of traditional bridges and concrete structures
  • Little differential movement, settlement or frost heave between the Buried Bridge and adjacent approach fills
  • In most cases, designing Buried Bridge foundations based on their ability to handle settlement will allow for a much higher bearing pressure, resulting in the elimination of deep foundations or other foundation costs savings
Backfilling of buried bridge stream crossing

Accept a range of backfill materials

Buried Bridges are dependent upon strong backfill materials and carry their loads through soil-structure interaction — meaning the bridge structure and the backfill soils act together to support the loads.

  • In some locations, those materials are readily available on or near the site at a low cost
  • In other areas, that’s not the case. Because of the way Buried Bridges are designed, less-than-ideal backfill materials (including on-site materials) can often be considered
  • This can result in significant cost savings
Ultra•Cor buried bridge grade separation assembly

Larger, stronger than standard culverts

Buried Bridges are sometimes called “culvert bridges” but Buried Bridges offer many more benefits than standard culverts.

  • Thicker steel and larger corrugation profiles with much higher design strength
  • Much larger spans, more applicable for bridge applications
  • Handle much larger hydraulic flows
  • Galvanizing weight is 50% more, adding to service life
Buried bridge with open fish passage and hydraulic flow

Minimal site impact

  • Usually no invert, resulting in a longer service life
  • Minimal impact on streambeds and habitat
  • Wide-span designs offer excellent open-flow hydraulics and fish passage properties
  • No sandblasting or painting through life cycle

Steel is “greener” than concrete

  • Less energy used in production and shipping of steel than concrete
  • Steel is the world’s most recycled material
  • Steel used in Buried Bridges contains 70-90% recycled content and is 100% recyclable into other steel products
  • Concrete bridges can’t be recycled into more concrete bridges
  • Zinc used in galvanizing is a naturally occurring material and is 100% recyclable
  • Buried Bridges will not leach harmful chemicals or compounds into the water or ground, which is often a concern with concrete structures
Bolt-A-Plate culvert follows winding stream bed

Custom-engineered to your site

  • Various structures, shapes and sizes, beveled or skewed ends
  • The more distance there is between the bottom of a structure and the road elevation above, the more cost-effective a Buried Bridge can be
  • As an example, a 10′ wide stream with sloped embankments passing 20′ below the proposed road elevation might require a traditional bridge with a span of 100′ or more
  • Alternatively, a 40′ span Buried Bridge could likely achieve the site and hydraulic objectives with significant time and cost savings

Low-maintenance solutions

  • No need to change pavement section or roadway maintenance across structure
  • No freeze/thaw differential with roadway approaches
  • No bridge deck, expansion joints, bearings or approaches to maintain
  • No sandblasting or painting to impact habitat
  • Wider, safer roadway (no need to narrow at crossing)
  • Fewer debris jams with wider, open-flow designs
  • Lower life cycle costs
  • Structures can last over 75 years with Polymer Coating

End treatments and customizations

Today’s Buried Bridges offer a variety of attractive headwall solutions in Vegetated Greenwalls, Cobblestone-Faced Wire Walls, Precast Panel or Cast-in-Place Concrete, Architectural Block, Masonry or Natural Stone. See the full range of our end treatments for a wide variety of applications in our Urbanscape Solutions Brochure or Video.

Drawing of buried bridge with typical skewed end and typical step bevel end

Drawing of buried bridge with typical skewed end and concrete headwall and stockpile tunnel with typical reinforced hopper frame

Typical foundation options

The AIL Group of Companies