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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > March 2013 > Meet the New Steel Bridge Design Handbook

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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-13-011
Date: March 2013

Meet the New Steel Bridge Design Handbook

Find the information you need to make decisions about the selection, design, fabrication, and construction of steel bridges with the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) new Steel Bridge Design Handbook (Pub. No. FHWA–IF–12–052).

The publication was first released by the United States Steel Corporation (U.S. Steel) in the 1970s as the Highway Structures Design Handbook, serving as the “go to” practitioner’s reference for information on such topics as economy, fabrication, fatigue, steel properties, and composite beam design. Since the original publication, some topics had been revised, new topics introduced, and several design examples published by U.S. Steel and the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA). Developed in partnership with NSBA, the new Handbook represents the first full update. “The goal of providing a comprehensive, nationally recognized, up–to–date reference tool for bridge engineers has been achieved,” said Brian Kozy of FHWA’s Office of Bridge Technology.

The 19–volume Handbook supports and expands upon the philosophies, methodologies, and provisions of the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications released by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). These specifications use the Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) methodology.

Topics covered in the Handbook are:

  • Volume 1—Bridge Steels and Their Mechanical Properties.
  • Volume 2—Steel Bridge Fabrication.
  • Volume 3—Structural Steel Bridge Shop Drawings.
  • Volume 4—Structural Behavior of Steel.
  • Volume 5—Selecting the Right Bridge Type.
  • Volume 6—Stringer Bridges: Making the Right Choices.
  • Volume 7—Loads and Load Combinations.
  • Volume 8—Structural Analysis.
  • Volume 9—Redundancy.
  • Volume 10—Limit States.
  • Volume 11—Design for Constructability.
  • Volume 12—Design for Fatigue.
  • Volume 13—Bracing System Design.
  • Volume 14—Splice Design.
  • Volume 15—Bearing Design.
  • Volume 16—Substructure Design.
  • Volume 17—Bridge Deck Design.
  • Volume 18—Load Rating of Steel Bridges.
  • Volume 19—Corrosion Protection of Steel Bridges.

Also featured in the Handbook are six detailed design examples, including a three–span continuous straight I–girder bridge, a two–span continuous straight wide–flange beam bridge, and a three–span continuous curved tub–girder bridge. The design examples cover such topics as steel framing, loads, structural analysis, limit states, and sample calculations.

The Handbook’s many topics and design examples provide bridge engineers with the technical information needed to support sound decisionmaking when building steel bridges. “The primary audience for the Handbook is the large number of young engineers in the new generation who are tasked with the design of steel bridges and may not have immediate access to experienced senior engineers to help them through the bridge design process,” said Kozy. “The broader audience is all bridge engineering professionals, who will benefit from the sharing of valuable knowledge and perspectives as we move toward safer, more economical, and more durable bridge construction.”

To download the Handbook volumes at no cost, visit The Handbook is also available on the NSBA Web site at For more information on the Handbook, contact Brian Kozy at FHWA, 202–493–0341 (email:

The cover of Volume 1 of FHWA’s Steel Bridge Design Handbook.

Updated: 02/20/2015

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