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Difference Between Pier And Abutment


The intermediate supports for the superstructure of a multi-span bridge are known as piers.

A pier essentially consists of two parts a column shaft and the foundation. It is sometimes provided with projections, called cut water and easy passage of water.

Function Of Pier:

The function of a pier is to transmit the load from the bridge to the underneath sub-soil.

Types Of Piers:

Depending upon the type of superstructure, sub-soil conditions and the construction procedure of the bridge, pier can be classified into the following two types:

1. Solid piers

2. Open piers.


The end supports of a bridge superstructure are known as abutments.

Abutments are built either with brick masonry, stone masonry, mass concrete, precast concrete blocks or RCC. The top surface of abutment is made flat for girder bridges or semi-circular arch bridges but provided with skewbacks if the bridge arches are segmental or elliptical.

Function Of Abutments:

1. To transmit the load from the bridge superstructure to the underlying sub-soil.

2. To provide final formation level to the bridge superstructure.

3. To retain the earth pressure of embankment of the approaches.

Types Of Abutments:

Depending upon the layout plan abutments are classified into following types:

1. Abutments with wing walls.

2. Abutments without wing walls.


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