The Importance of Bridge Expansion Joints

Bridge joints or bridge expansion joints are important in construction of infrastructures particularly in building bridges. These items are designed to allow bridges to have continuous flow of traffic all the while accommodating large movements, variations of temperature and passage of heavy weighted vehicles. Bridge joints are there to stop the bridge from bending out of place due to severe conditions. It also permits the bridge bearing to be replaced without actually having to take apart the bridge which would be aggravating.

Without bridge joints, bridges could be easily destroyed due to harsh conditions that bridges are subjected to. They are needed to support the bridge from heavy weighted vehicles, harsh weather conditions and from bridge span shrinkage. It allows for a longer bridge life span and maximizes the use of infrastructures.

There are different types of bridge expansion joints. The type varies depending on the allowable traffic movement. It typically ranges from 30 to 500 mm. The joint types are categorized by small movements, medium movement and large movement.

Small movement types include:

  • BEJS, EMSEAL, XJS, AC-AR JEP, WR as well as WOSd
  • Small movement joint types are most suitable for infrastructures that have a great pedestrian presence, such as pedestrian bridges, plaza decks and others.

Medium movement types include:

  • Etic EJ and Wd

Large movement types include:

  • WP and Etic EJF/SFEJ

Other types of bridge joints that do not fall into small, medium or large movement types of joints are modular expansion joints and modular multiple-gap expansion joints. Modular expansion joints are bridge/expansion joints that are designed for bridge movements that surpass the capacity of single gap or finger type joint. This type of bridge expansion joint is designed to suit any specific requirements of any structure. It provides watertight integrity and is proven to be versatile bridge joint types for any infrastructure.

On the other hand, the modular multiple-gap expansion joints are bridge/expansion joints that can accommodate travel movements in every bearing and rotation in every bloc. It has the capacity to bear longitudinal travel movements even as little as 160 mm. It has the capacity to stand movements that may very well exceed 3000 mm.

These devices are designed to provide smooth passage of traffic, accommodate travel movements and avoid water overflow from damaging the bridge structure. Using bridge expansion joints allows the bridge and other infrastructures to have a longer life span and to be used for more time than they are expected to be used. Through these devices, structures are given a longer life service.

Bridge expansion joints are important for longer service of structures, but it is not the only important element. The infrastructure should also be made of quality product so that it will last up to its life span. Though bridge joints can help support the bridge structure, there is no knowing how long it will last as it will be subjected to many extreme conditions, from harsh weather conditions to large travel movements that may greatly damage it.