21 Main Pros and Cons of Arch Bridge

The arch bridge is a bridge with abutments at each end shaped as a curved arch. They work by transferring the weight of the bridge and its load partially into a horizontal thrust restrained by the abutments at either side. Multi-level structures used this design as a way of transporting people, materials, or supplies into a community.

Pros and Cons of Arch Bridge

Pros of Arch Bridge

  1. Multiple arches can work together to create stability

Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge across Paranoa Lake in Brazil is an example of multiple bridges. It has three arch design with supportive cables that carry drivers safely over the water. Each is tied to the other to create more stability.

  1. It offers a variety of forms

Engineers have more flexibility available to them when thinking about the overall aesthetics of the structure. The engineers can either opt for lighter or thinner designs.

  1. There are fewer distortions

As compared to other bridges, there is a distortion of the piers over time because of how the load goes across the deck. With the arch bridge, there is a downward force that is applied to an arch which makes it better equality in the process because of the transference effect that exists. This reduces the maintenance cost of the bridge.

  1. The bridge gets stronger as it ages

The bridge gets stronger as it ages because the compression that gets placed on each side of it will begin to flatten out the arch creating a U-shape with less rounding. This process makes the weight of the deck be distributed better hence providing more stability.

  1. Arches adapt to the local environment better

As the bridge can adapt to the local environment, then it can withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. This makes the bridges better than traditional bridges as they may cause few accidents.

  1. The bridges can be made out of any material

The bridges can be made from concrete, steel, aluminum, or both. This makes it easier for the bridges to be constructed as the engineers may use the available materials to construct the bridges.

  1. They have a high level of resistance

The curve of the arch bridge design gives the overall structure more strength. If something heavy is to travel across the bridge, then the weight of the bridge can modify it with a downward sagging force. This makes it possible for the bridge to accommodate any heavy object that may travel across it.

  1. There are multiple designs to choose from

There are fixed arches, two-hinged arches, and three-hinged arches. Fixed arches are used when building a concrete bridge and building tunnels. A two-hinged arch is useful for longer spans as it has the base that provides rotation. It gives room for expansion and contraction. The three-hinged arch makes the structure move in opposite directions to account for temperature changes.

  1. Ability to span for greater distance

When using an arch bridge, you can span for a greater distance as it has the advantage of strength and stability. It can travel between two support points than a straight beam. This is because of the downward force that the bridge offers.

  1. It is relatively cheap

Arch bridges are preferred when it comes to small distances as they are able to cope with the bending forces. This makes the cost of repair and maintenance to below as there will be little wear and tear of the bridge.

  1. They resist pressure

When it comes to pressure and weight, the bridges are able to resist. The weight and pressure of anything across them will be able to go straight down hence no single part of the bridge takes on too much pressure.

Cons of Arch Bridge

  1. It takes more time to build

As it requires a different levels of specificity, it can take a longer time to finish as compared to other designs. It can take triple the time other designs take and this time may not be available for the community to wait for the bridge to be completed.

  1. Needs high levels of maintenance

The bridges need maintenance to ensure that the supports are distributing the weight to the abutments as they should. It needs frequent inspections to ensure that the bridge does not weaken as it ages.

  1. Not suitable for some locations

It needs solid and stable support on both sides of the bridge for it to support the deck of any type. There must be two placement points that are successful in their support for the design to be successful in an area.

  1. Some bridges may need additional side support

It requires more support because of the nature of movement on this structure. The natural end support should be strong enough to support the design. This makes more locations to use pillars instead of this form of design.

  1. They can sometimes have too much flexibility

Two-hinged and three-hinged can be more advantageous to the community that lives in areas that experience thermal change frequently. The flexibility of the bridge can be too much for the deck to handle hence leading to complete failure of the bridge.

  1. The arch must be perfect for the bridge design to be adequate

The supportive structures need to be in line with the arch design for the keystones to be placed accurately. This may cause the distribution of weight to the abutments not to be balanced hence easily causing accidents.

  1. It requires an experienced group to construct

The arch bridges cannot be constructed by anyone. It needs someone who has experience in that field in order to fix the bridge accurately. The person should understand the interior and exterior pressure that the abutments must handle. Enough strength should also be placed in the support materials for enough transference to occur.

  1. They require multiple arches

The arch bridge can cover an indefinite span but there is a catch to the process. The engineer will need to use multiple arches within the design for it to cover an indefinite span. If the length of the bridge has to be increased, then more arches have to be added.

  1. Tough construction job

To construct the bridges is a tough job. It requires intensive labor and time for the bridge to be constructed the way it is to be. This may discourage many as they will need a lot of labor input which may not be available.

  1. It is costly

It is expensive to construct the bridge as the construction materials are expensive to acquire. Apart from materials, it also needs intensive labor from the architects and engineers hence adding up to huge amounts for the bridge to be constructed.


Arch bridges are constructed to serve a specific function. As they are strong and flexible, they help people to use them without fear. By weighing the pros and cons you can get an idea of whether the bridges can be of use in your community or not.

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