The world’s first stainless steel road bridge

The Cala Galdana Bridge on the island of Minorca, Spain, is believed to be the first ever road bridge constructed in stainless steel. This beautifully constructed bridge, which was only completed ten years ago, is a shining example (literally shining) of what possibilities stainless steel can offer to the field of structural engineering.

About the bridge

In 2003, the decision was made to replace the existing reinforced concrete structure, as it had suffered severe corrosion and settlement in one of its supports due to the harsh coastal environment. It took just two years to build the replacement 55m bridge, including demolition of the old structure.

It consists of two parallel arches with a free span of 45m. These beams are rectangular hollow sections of 1 x 0.5m and incorporates plates of varying thicknesses between 15mm and 25mm. The stainless steel bridge weighs 165 metric tonnes and is made with duplex stainless steel, which is well-known for its high resistance to corrosion by chlorides.

Though only 55m in length with a 13m wide deck, there is space enough for two traffic lanes plus two lateral footpaths for excellent views of the picturesque estuary. And, because of its stainless steel structure, over the lifecycle of the bridge there will be superior economical savings due in part to reduced maintenance.

Benefits of stainless steel in structures

Stainless steel, in its many forms and grades, is highly resistant to rust, corrosion and staining, making it an ideal material for many applications. It can be fabricated into platessheets, bars, wire, coil and tubing, and can be used in anything from cookware and household appliances to jewellery, surgical instruments, industrial equipment, bridges, firearms and more.

Stainless steel is also 100% recyclable. Interestingly, an average stainless steel object is composed of about 60% recycled material.

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Image source: By Pontis21 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons