Bridges and Other “static” Structures

What is the difference between a dead load and a live load?

In order to remain static, bridges (and all structures, for that matter) must be able to withstand loads placed on them. A load is simply the engineering term for force. Dead load is the weight of the bridge or structure itself. The live load, on the other hand, is the weight and forces applied to the bridge as a result of the vehicles and people that move across the bridge at any one time. Of course, in order to be safe, engineers account for much higher live loads than would normally occur.


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