Orthotropic Steel Deck: a Solution for Sustainable Development


July 16, 2014

Category: Orthotropic Steel Deck  -  Published by: Éric Lévesque, ing., M.Sc.

Orthotropic steel deck is being used more and more in Canada, and the reasons for choosing this solution are many. While professionals opt for this method mainly because of its cost-saving advantages, the benefits extend even further.

Orthotropic deck is composed of a steel plate that’s covered by a shop-installed roadway surface. The bottom of the plate is simply stiffened using components that are sized primarily according to the traffic loads and the number of load cycles produced by the heavy transport vehicles that will travel over the structure during its useful life. Orthotropic steel deck can easily satisfy a designated service life of 75 years or longer.


The primary advantages of using orthotropic steel deck are:

  • Tight control over quality and shop fabrication
  • Rapid field erection; lanes can be reopened to traffic immediately upon erecttion
  • Allows for progressive rehabilitation with closures only at night or on weekends
  • One or more lanes can remain open during the entire process, thus it is possible avoiding the use of costly temporary bridges
  • Impact on traffic kept to a minimum

A major advantage of orthotropic steel deck is its very low deadweight, which represents just 30% of that of conventional concrete deck. The sizing of steel superstructure components allows for a further reduction of up to 10% in the overall weight of these members, thereby decreasing construction costs for foundations and seismic isolation elements.

In the case of rehabilitation projects, this significant reduction in deadweight can allow for increased traffic loads and the construction of wider lanes with the possibility of reusing the existing superstructure, piers and abutments. This reuse of the existing structure acts to decrease the project’s overall environmental footprint.

Finally, the resulting time and cost savings are certainly important decision-making considerations for owners and builders. Users, for their part, appreciate the shorter construction schedule and the reduced impact on traffic. In a context of sustainable development, orthotropic deck is an optimal solution that has to be considered right from the early phases of a bridge project.

Structures Featuring Orthotropic Deck

Congress Parkway Bridge, Chicago, IL
Brooklyn Bridge, New York, NY

To Find out More…

View the 3D animation

Discover orthotropic deck from different angles (interactive PDF)

Download our flyer on orthotropic deck


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1 comment

  1. Comment by Dewayne Rogers the 23 October 2018 at 13 h 32 min

    Looking for a innovative bridge deck system for a local agency bridge project. 57′ single span bridge; 30′ wide; will be built part with construction. Looking for a deck system that is less than 8″ in thickness due to surrounding site conditions.

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