Arch Bridges


Bridge No.37 over the Grand Union Canal at Leicester

The Arch is probably the most versatile and reliable form of early bridge construction and pre-dates the Roman era. One of the best preserved Roman monuments is the aqueduct at Segovia, which was built around AD 53-117 and remained in use until 1908.
There have been a number of analytical solutions proposed to determine the capacity of an arch. Robert Hooke(1635-1705), Lahire(1640-1718), Coulomb(1736-1806), Navier(1785-1836) and I.K.Brunel(1806-1859) all developed mathematical solutions for the arch form.

The DMRB code BD 21 promotes the use of the modified MEXE analysis for an initial assessment of the capacity of the arch. The Military Engineering Experimental Establishment (MEXE) developed a simple empirical method for assessing the capacity of masonry arches for carrying military traffic.
Computer programs have recently been developed to model the behaviour of the arch ring. Some of the more popular programs in use are ARCHIE (by OBVIS), CTAP (by The University of Wales College of Cardiff) and MAFEA (by British Rail Research and Nottingham University).

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