A bridge is a structure built to span a gorge, valley, road, railroad track, river, body of water, or any other physical obstacle.


Council owned bridges typically exist to allow vehicles and/or pedestrians to access to areas that would be otherwise inaccessable or only accessable via a longer alternate route.

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Glossary of Austroads Terms

The Glossary of Austroads Terms defines a bridge as a structure designed to carry a road or path over an obstacle by spanning it.

Victorian Code of Practice for Operational Responsibility for Public Roads

The Victorian Code of Practice for Operational Responsibility for Public Roads (May 2017) states that the term bridge encompasses 'all structures, including culverts, on, over or under a road that have a single span or diameter of 1.8 metres or greater, or have a waterway area of 3 m² or greater and includes all structural components (eg. abutments, wing walls, approach slabs, retaining walls, traffic safety barriers), and associated pathways, within the limits of the structure, but excludes approach embankments.'

Naming Rules for Places in Victoria

The Naming Rules for Places in Victoria describe a bridge as:

(a) A man made structure carrying a ROAD or other transportation system over a WATERCOURSE, RAILWAY, ROAD or other obstruction;
(b) A natural BRIDGE, a bridge or arch of natural rock.

It notes the responsibility for naming bridges rests with either the local Council or VicRoads.

Types of Bridges

Wikipedia lists six main types of bridges: beam bridges, cantilever bridges, arch bridges, suspension bridges, cable-stayed bridges and truss bridges.

Bridge Materials

The majority of new local government controlled bridges are probably constructed from pre-cast concrete segments. Timber was a common bridge construction material in the past, and is still used in the construction of footbridges, but it is not common for new road bridges to be constructed from timber.

Bridge Components

Bridges are sometimes broken up into several components in an asset register, including;

Useful Life

The useful life of a bridge will depend on the type of bridge, the material from which it is constructed and a range of environmental & other factors. A life of 30-100 years is typical for bridges channel in some areas.

The table below shows the useful life for bridges adopted by a number of Councils or suggested by other organisations. Please feel free to add your Councils information.

Council/Organisation Adopted Life
National Asset Management Manual 30-80 years
Whittlesea City Council 25-100 years

Bridge Maintenance

The maintenance of timber bridges is an issue for many rural Councils. Fortunately the Queensland Main Roads Timber Bridge Maintenance Manual, which can be downloaded free of charge from the Main Roads website covers the maintenance of timber bridges in great detail.

As with other timber structures, timber bridges should be checked and treated for termites on a regular basis.

The VicRoads Road Structures Inspection Manual suggests that bridges should be the subject of a routine maintenance inspection at least twice a year.

Condition Assessment Techniques

There are a number of Condition Assessment Techniques that can be applied to bridges, including;

Responsibility for Bridges

In Victoria, bridges which form part of a roadway, pathway or shoulder are considered to be road infrastructure, and Council
has a statutory duty to inspect, maintain and repair them under the Road Management Act.

The legislative basis for the provision, maintenance and repair of non-road bridges is less clear, but the Victorian Local Government Act 1989 lists "planning for and providing services and facilities for the local community" as a local government function, and bridges in parks are typically provided as a service to or as part of a facility for the local community.

Related Pages


The following site members have contributed to this page:

External Links & References

  1. Wikipedia Article
  2. Bridge Management & Evaluation (ARRB)
  3. Humes
  4. Timber Bridge Management (NSW RTA)
  5. Google Wave Timber Bridges Discussion
  6. Trial of Ground Penetrating Radar to Locate Defects in Timber Bridge Girders
  7. Nondestructive Evaluation Techniques for Timber Bridges
  8. Queensland Main Roads Timber Bridge Maintenance Manual
  9. Victoria's Arterial Bridge Strategy (VicRoads)
  10. Short Span Steel Bridges - Myths and Realities
  11. Bridge Construction Methods (David Trayner)
  12. Design Rules for Bridge Bearings and Expansion Joints (Austroads)
  13. IPWEA Single Lane Bridge Width Discussion
  14. Google Search
  15. Drones Build Bridge That Can Bear Human Weight - Gizmag (September 2015)
  16. Bridge Culvert Servicing Manual (Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads)
  17. How long will your concrete bridge last? - Norbert Michel, AARB (2015)
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