Timber bridge

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Beam bridge
Small footbridge.jpg
Material Wood
Wooden trestle.jpg
Trestles are useful as approaches to bridges over marshes and shallows
Material Timber, iron, steel, reinforced concrete, prestressed concrete

A timber bridge or wooden bridge is a bridge that uses timber or wood as its principal structural material. One of the first forms of bridge, those of timber have been used since ancient times.



Holzbrucke Rapperswil-Hurden, a modern bridge on the route of one of the oldest known timber bridges. Rapperswil - Seedamm Holzsteg Rapperswil-Hurden.jpg
Holzbrücke Rapperswil-Hurden, a modern bridge on the route of one of the oldest known timber bridges.

The most ancient form of timber bridge is the log bridge, created by felling a tree over a gap needing to be crossed.[ citation needed ]

Among the oldest timber bridges is the Holzbrücke Rapperswil-Hurden crossing upper Lake Zürich in Switzerland; the prehistoric timber piles discovered to the west of the Seedamm date back to 1523 B.C. The first wooden footbridge led across Lake Zürich, followed by several reconstructions at least until the late 2nd century AD, when the Roman Empire built a 6-metre-wide (20 ft) wooden bridge. Between 1358 and 1360, Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, built a 'new' wooden bridge across the lake that was used until 1878 – measuring approximately 1,450 metres (4,760 ft) in length and 4 metres (13 ft) wide. On April 6, 2001, the reconstructed wooden footbridge was opened, being the longest wooden bridge in Switzerland. The Kapellbrücke is a 204-metre-long (669 ft) bridge crossing the Reuss in the city of Lucerne in Switzerland. It is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, and one of Switzerland's main tourist attractions.[ citation needed ]


Recently timber bridges have received attention in the United States because they are environmentally friendly compared to other bridge types. Until 1991, the Federal Highway Administration has concentrated on major highways and other primary roads; rural highways and local roads, where timber bridges are mostly found, have received less attention.

Local and state agencies prefer timber bridges because timber is a renewable resource, it is relatively economical, and there have been rapid improvements in design, construction, and preservative treatment. The US Congress emphasized timber bridges by passing the Timber Bridge Initiative (TBI) in 1988 and the Intermodal Surface Transportation and Efficiency Act (ISTEA) in 1991. [1] [2]

Covered bridges, usually made of wood and enclosed as if a tunnel, were very popular in the 19th century in the US. Today, timber bridges are promoted as environmentally friendly, and as a way to protect water quality and the habitat along waterways. Timber bridges can be placed over small streams or channels with firm, stable banks. [3]

The passing of TBI and ISTEA by the US Congress has provided an impetus to identify and develop standard designs for timber bridges, which the US Forest Service has done. [4] The US Forest Service has designed standardized plans for timber bridge superstructures made of treated lumber. [1]


The University of Minnesota Extension Service recommends three types of timber bridges for wilderness lands, and suggest that a licensed engineer be hired to insure the bridge design is safe and appropriate for the site. Using fallen trees, stringer bridges can be built. Wood laminated by stress, glued, dowels, or nails lumber are good for panel bridges. New lumber and wood scavenged from buildings and railroad ties can be used to build stringer bridges. [3] A licensed engineer can help operators design a safe, appropriate timber bridge.

Personnel from Virginia Tech have described in detail how to build a stringer bridge using standard bridge design procedures, for example, by placing timber stringers across the abutment, using a bent to support a trestle or timber frame. Their methods are quick and cost little. [5]

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Lumber Wood that has been processed into beams and planks

Lumber, also known as timber, is wood that has been processed into beams and planks, a stage in the process of wood production. Lumber is mainly used for structural purposes but has many other uses as well.

Covered bridge wooden bridge with protective cover

A covered bridge is a timber-truss bridge with a roof, decking, and siding, which in most covered bridges create an almost complete enclosure. The purpose of the covering is to protect the wooden structural members from the weather. Uncovered wooden bridges typically have a lifespan of only 20 years because of the effects of rain and sun, but a covered bridge could last over 100 years. Once common, only about 1 in 10 survived the 20th century. The relatively small number of surviving bridges is due to deliberate replacement, neglect, and the high cost of restoration.

Santiago Calatrava Spanish engineer and architect

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Rapperswil-Jona Municipality in Switzerland in St. Gallen

Rapperswil-Jona is a municipality in the Wahlkreis (constituency) of See-Gaster in the canton of St. Gallen in Switzerland. Besides Rapperswil and Jona, which were separate municipalities until 2006, the municipality includes Bollingen, Busskirch, Curtiberg, Kempraten-Lenggis, Wagen, and Wurmsbach.

Pallet Flat transport structure that supports goods in a stable fashion

A pallet is a flat transport structure, which supports goods in a stable fashion while being lifted by a forklift, a pallet jack, a front loader, a jacking device, or an erect crane. A pallet is the structural foundation of a unit load which allows handling and storage efficiencies. Goods or shipping containers are often placed on a pallet secured with strapping, stretch wrap or shrink wrap and shipped. Since its invention in the twentieth century, its use has dramatically supplanted older forms of crating like the wooden box and the wooden barrel, as it works well with modern packaging like corrugated boxes and intermodal containers commonly used for bulk shipping.

Glued laminated timber

Glued laminated timber, also abbreviated glulam, is a type of structural engineered wood product constituted by layers of dimensional lumber bonded together with durable, moisture-resistant structural adhesives. In North America, the material providing the laminations is termed laminating stock or lamstock.


A footbridge is a bridge designed solely for pedestrians. While the primary meaning for a bridge is a structure which links "two points at a height above the ground", a footbridge can also be a lower structure, such as a boardwalk, that enables pedestrians to cross wet, fragile, or marshy land. Bridges range from stepping stones–possibly the earliest man-made structure to "bridge" water–to elaborate steel structures. Another early bridge would have been simply a fallen tree. In some cases a footbridge can be both functional and artistic.

Medlow Bath railway station

Medlow Bath railway station is a heritage-listed railway station located on the Main Western line in Medlow Bath in the City of Blue Mountains local government area of New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by NSW Government Railways and built from 1902 to 1922. The property was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999. The station opened on 21 January 1880 as Browns Siding Pulpit Hill, and was renamed Medlow on 1 March 1883 and Medlow Bath on 1 October 1903.

Timber recycling Recycling process

Timber recycling or wood recycling is the process of turning waste timber into usable products. Recycling timber is a practice that was popularized in the early 1990s as issues such as deforestation and climate change prompted both timber suppliers and consumers to turn to a more sustainable timber source. Recycling timber is the environmentally friendliest form of timber production and is very common in countries such as Australia and New Zealand where supplies of old wooden structures are plentiful. Timber can be chipped down into wood chips which can be used to power homes or power.

Cross-laminated timber Wood panel product made from solid-sawn lumber

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a wood panel product made from gluing together layers of solid-sawn lumber, i.e., lumber cut from a single log. Each layer of boards is usually oriented perpendicular to adjacent layers and glued on the wide faces of each board, usually in a symmetric way so that the outer layers have the same orientation. An odd number of layers is most common, but there are configurations with even numbers as well. Regular timber is an anisotropic material, meaning that the physical properties change depending on the direction at which the force is applied. By gluing layers of wood at right angles, the panel is able to achieve better structural rigidity in both directions. It is similar to plywood but with distinctively thicker laminations.

Seedamm Partially artificial causeway and bridge at the most narrow area of Lake Zurich

Seedamm is the partially artificial causeway and bridge at the most narrow area of Lake Zurich, between Hurden (SZ) and Rapperswil (SG). The Seedamm carries a road and a railway across the lake, with the railway being used by the S5 and S40 lines of the S-Bahn Zürich and by the Südostbahn Voralpen Express.

Holzbrücke Rapperswil-Hurden Wooden pedestrian bridge crossing the upper Lake Zürich in Switzerland

Holzbrücke Rapperswil-Hurden is a wooden pedestrian bridge between the city of Rapperswil and the village of Hurden crossing the upper Lake Zürich (Obersee) in Switzerland. The prehistoric timber piles discovered to the west of the Seedamm date back to 1523 BC. The island settlement Technikum is a prehistoric pile-dwelling settlement which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps. The first wooden footbridge led across Lake Zürich, followed by several reconstructions at least until the late 2nd century AD when the Roman Empire built a 6 metres (20 ft) wide wooden bridge. Between 1358 and 1360, Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, built a 'new' wooden bridge across the lake that was used until 1878. On 6 April 2001, the reconstructed wooden footbridge was opened, being the longest wooden bridge in Switzerland.

Denison Bridge

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Godavari Arch Bridge Bridge in India

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Hurden Former municipality of Switzerland in Schwyz

Hurden is a village in the municipality of Freienbach in the canton of Schwyz in Switzerland. First mentioned in 1217, the name "de Hurden" was used for the peninsula and for the fish traps made of woven work, called "Hürden" or "Hurden", which were used by the locals.

Plank (wood)

A plank is timber that is flat, elongated, and rectangular with parallel faces that are higher and longer than wide. Used primarily in carpentry, planks are critical in the construction of ships, houses, bridges, and many other structures. Planks also serve as supports to form shelves and tables.

Waldshut–Koblenz Rhine Bridge

The Waldshut–Koblenz Rhine Bridge is a single-track railway bridge on the Turgi–Koblenz–Waldshut railway, between Waldshut and Koblenz AG, crossing the Rhine and the border between Germany and Switzerland. It was the first railway bridge built over the Rhine below Lake Constance. It is the only major railway bridge over the Rhine, which is completely preserved in its original condition and is one of Europe's few lattice truss bridges. It is also one of the oldest railway bridges in the world.

The wood industry or lumber industry is the industry concerned with forestry, logging, timber trade, and the production of primary forest products and wood products and secondary products like wood pulp for the pulp and paper industry. Some of the largest producers are also among the biggest owners of timberland. The wood industry has historically been and continues to be an important sector in many economies.

Tooleybuc Bridge Bridge crossing Murray River in Victoria, Australia

The Tooleybuc Bridge is a dual heritage-listed road bridge that carries Tooleybuc Road across the Murray River, located in Tooleybuc, New South Wales, Australia. It was built in 1925. The bridge is owned by the Murray River Council, and is also called the Tooleybuc Bridge over Murray River. The bridge was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 20 June 2000 and the Victorian Heritage Register on 10 July 2008.


  1. 1 2 Wacker, James P.; Smith, Matthew S. (2001). "Standard plans for timber bridge superstructures". Forest Products Laboratory. Madison: Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. p. 53.
  2. Sheila Rimal Duwadi; Robert C. Wood. "The Federal Highway Administration Timber Bridge Program" (PDF). Retrieved April 28, 2012.
  3. 1 2 "Timber Bridges". University of Minnesota. 2002. Archived from the original on March 18, 2012. Retrieved April 24, 2012.
  4. James Wacher; Mathew Smith. "Standard Plans for Timber Bridge Structures" (PDF). Forest Products Laboratory. Retrieved April 24, 2012.
  5. "Timber Stringer Bridge". Virginia Tech. Retrieved April 24, 2012.