Bridges using arches were built as long ago as 3200 B.C. by the Sumerians. It was the Romans who first built arch bridges to Britain.
As more roads were built bridge design improved. Basing an arch on a segment of a circle allowed a greater span. Victorian railway builders made great use of arches. They often linked many arches together to form a long viaduct.
Advantages of arch bridges
- Good for short spans.
- Inexpensive, with local building materials such as stone and brick, being used in the past. Today, concrete is more likely to be used.
- Wider distances can be spanned by building more arches.
Disadvantages of arch bridges:
- Uses a lot of material, even on short spans.
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