What Are the Advantages of Cable-Stayed Bridges?

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For medium distances of between 500 and 2,500 feet, cable-stayed bridges have the advantages over suspension bridges of requiring less steel cable and being less expensive and quicker to build. In addition, instead of being limited to two towers as suspension bridges are, cable-stayed bridges can be built with any number of towers.

On a suspension bridge, large cables hang between two towers, and smaller cables hanging from the large cables support the weight of the bridge deck. On a cable-stayed bridge, however, cables run in parallel patterns from the towers directly to the deck of the bridge, so that the towers carry most of the bridge's weight. Because of this construction, less deck deformations occur under live loads, and the deck has much more rigidity.

Historically, designs for cable-stayed bridges appear as far back as 1595, in a book called "Machinae Novae" by a Venetian inventor. A number of bridges built in England in the 19th century have cable-stayed construction, and one of the most famous examples in the United States is Brooklyn Bridge in New York. The longest cable-stayed bridge in the world is the Russky Bridge in Vladivostok, Russia, with a span of 3,622 feet. The longest in the Western Hemisphere is the John James Audubon Bridge in Louisiana, with a span of 1,581 feet.