Since human beings have been building civilizations, we've been building bridges. Some of the earliest bridges were timber boardwalks built over marshlands during the Neolithic era. Bridges made of timber have been important from the birth of civilization until today because wood has been one of the most easily accessible resources and building materials in the world for most humans. Even though concrete and steel bridges are the most common bridges we seem to see today, timber bridges have myriad benefits and are still sought after especially in wilderness areas. Here's why.
1. Environmentally Friendly
One reason that timber bridges are still in use is today is because they are safer to the environment around them than other building materials, particularly for nearby waterways. In fact, studies have shown that waterways are much less susceptible to contamination by bridge materials when those bridges are built of timber, even when the timber is coated with preservatives like creosote, pentachlorophenol, or chromated copper arsenate. Though some leaching of these materials naturally happens over time, these studies have proved that the amounts leached don't affect the wildlife around the bridge. That makes timber bridges especially ideal for wilderness areas.
2. Holds Up To Deicing
In areas of the country where there are harsh winters, bridges need to be deiced. To accomplish this, bridges are sprayed with a chemical deicing solution. The problem is that these chemical agents will attack unprotected concrete and steel structures causing them to corrode over time. Timber bridges, however, resist the effects of deicing chemicals, making them a better option for places with a lot of ice and snow.
When properly treated and constructed, timber bridges have a surprisingly long life and hold up well to environmental conditions. A timber bridge will last an average of 20 to 30 years and maybe even longer. In fact, a study conducted by the U.S. Forest Service discovered that if a timber bridge is properly designed, constructed, and pressure-treated, it can last as long as 70 years. That's a lifespan comparable to concrete and steel structures.
Another major benefit of timber bridges is that they are economical to build with materials that are readily available. This is especially true in comparison to the cost of other materials like steel and concrete. In fact, when properly designed and treated, timber bridges are comparable in cost to other materials like concrete, steel, and prestressed concrete, both in the initial cost category and in the life-span category.
You can learn more about your options by contacting a timber bridge-building company.