Bridge design software is offered by a number of manufacturers for a wide variety of applications. Constant improvements and new features, such as bridge rating capabilities, code checking, extensive 3-D modeling, and the ability to locate lanes of traffic and vehicles in roadways to meet specific design requirements and to establish critical loading patterns, provide a solution for every type of bridge.

In response to a request from Structural Engineer, a number of manufacturers provided the following information about their products. Some companies declined to participate by failing to return the questionnaire by our deadline. We apologize for inadvertent omissions. To be added to our contact list, please contact Jennifer Goupil, P.E., at

Developed by ADAPT Corporation, ADAPT-ABI specializes in the analysis and design of segmental, cable-stayed, precast, pre- and post-tensioned, concrete bridges and girders. It carries out complete bridge design, including construction phase, in-service, and safety checks. Its unique finite element formulation explicitly accounts for time-dependent material effects, construction procedures, and sequences. ABI also provides data for camber and geometry control during construction, and is available in various units and international design codes.

ALGOR, Inc., makes computer software and provides services for mechanical and civil engineers in industries such as automotive, aerospace, medical, consumer products, military, electric power, petroleum, large structures, MEMS, and more. ALGOR’s product line includes design, analysis, and simulation tools that allow engineers to virtually test and predict real-world behavior of new and existing product designs. Its wide range of simulation capabilities includes static stress and mechanical event simulation (MES) with linear and nonlinear material models, linear dynamics, fatigue, steady-state and transient heat transfer, steady and unsteady fluid flow, electrostatics, full multi-physics, and piping.

According to Bentley Systems, Inc., its structural team of RAM, STAAD, and ProSteel offers the most comprehensive suite of specialist analysis, design, detailing, and construction documentation tools anywhere. In MicroStation, the bridge design engineer can create models using Bentley Structural, generate and maintain accurate general arrangement, and detail drawings. Then, using the growing integration facilities available in Bentley products, this model can be transferred to STAAD.Pro, which is enhanced with STAAD.beava to locate lanes of traffic and vehicles in roadways to meet specific design requirements, thus establishing critical loading patterns. The resulting forces in the steelwork can then be checked for compliance to one of numerous available codes, including AASHTO, ASD, or LRFD. Finally, back in MicroStation, concrete structures can be quickly detailed and scheduled using powerful parametric detailing facilities in Bentley REBAR.

Bridge Software Institute’s FB-MultiPier analysis program is a nonlinear finite element analysis program capable of analyzing multiple bridge pier structures interconnected by bridge spans. The full structure can be subject to an array of AASHTO load types in a static analysis or time-varying load functions in a dynamic analysis. Each pier structure is composed of pier columns and cap-supported on a pile cap and piles/shafts with nonlinear soil. This analysis program couples nonlinear structural finite element analysis with nonlinear static soil models for axial, lateral, and torsional soil behavior to provide a robust system of analysis for coupled bridge pier structures and foundation systems. FB-MultiPier performs the generation of the finite element model internally given the geometric definition of the structure and foundation system as input graphically by the designer. This allows the engineer to work directly with the design parameters and quickly create and interpret a model.

Computers & Structures, Inc., (CSI) is recognized worldwide as an innovative leader in the development of software tools for the analysis and design of civil structures, according to the company. Each of CSI’s programs is tailored to specific classes of structures, allowing the engineering community to work at more productive and efficient levels than are possible with general-purpose-type programs. SAP2000 is intended for use on civil structures, such as bridges, dams, stadiums, industrial structures, and buildings. ETABS has been developed specifically for multi-story building structures, such as office buildings, apartments, and hospitals. The SAFE System provides an efficient and powerful program for the analysis and design of concrete slabs and foundations.

Multiframe, from Daystar Software, Inc., provides linear and nonlinear analysis along with a full range of modeling tools, including 3-D drawing, tension only/compression only members and springs, automation, thermal effects, dynamic analysis, and much more. According to the company, other modules allow you to quickly draw section shapes and install them in the section library and perform design checks for a wide range of design codes. Multiframe’s graphical interface is visual and intuitive. Its flexible construction capabilities will dramatically reduce the time it takes you to set up structural models and the real-time 3-D rendering makes it easy to pick out areas of interest in the model.

According to DLUBAL Engineering Software GmbH, its RFEM – Finite Elements for BridgesRFEM software stands out in the finite element design of bridges. With its nonlinear static or large deformation analyses, the calculation of bridges with or without cables is reliably handled. The program calculates the deformations, internal forces, and stresses of any-shaped plates and shells. They can be designed alone and in combination with concrete or steel elements. Stability and dynamic analyses round out the design. The application range also covers complex steel frames or detailed-modelled connections. Due to the user-friendly interface of all Dlubal programs, RFEM does not require extensive training sessions.

GT STRUDL Structural Design & Analysis software from the Georgia Tech-CASE Center offers a wide range of frame and finite element capabilities for the bridge engineer. The linear and nonlinear static and dynamic analysis features include moving load generation, response spectrum analysis, transient analysis, pushover analysis, plastic hinges, discrete dampers, tension- and compression-only members, and nonlinear connections. The software includes extensive graphical modeling and result-display capabilities. New solvers enable the solution of static and dynamic models with more than 300,000 degrees of freedom. According to the company, bridge engineers frequently use GT STRUDL for the analysis of cable-stayed and suspension bridges, tunnels, and seismic retrofit.

Since 1984, LEAP Software, Inc., has pioneered the development of innovative and powerful software solutions for the structural engineering community. Designed by engineers for engineers, its comprehensive range of analysis and design tools delivers accurate results every time.

LUSAS bridge software was used by Genesis Structures to analyze the staged erection of the Wichita Footbridges and carry out numerous, detailed, 3-D linear and nonlinear analyses of the structures. The complex erection sequence involving falsework construction in the river, post-tensioning of the precast concrete deck system, and the sequential cable tensioning to lift the structure from its temporary supports was modelled, according to the company. In doing so, Genesis found excellent correlation between LUSAS’ predicted and onsite values, and, as a result, minimized the number of steps in the cable-tensioning process, reducing the contractor’s erection time.

MDX Software is a bridge design software package specifically for the design and rating of curved and straight steel girder bridges for compliance with the latest AASHTO, ASD, LFD, and LRFD specifications, and has most recently been updated for the 4th edition of the LRFD specifications. According to the company, the MDX Software Curved & Straight Steel Bridge Design & Rating package has been in continuous use for more than 10 years by many ENR Top 500 design firms and state DOTs.

According to MIDASoft Inc., its MIDAS/Civil (Bridge) analyzes and designs any bridge structures in 3-D environments, accounting for construction stages and time-dependent materials. It covers curved (girder), composite, segmental post-tensioning, suspension, cable-stayed, skewed slab, frame, and culvert bridges. It generates comprehensive traffic loads to AASHTO standard and LRFD, CSA-S6-00, and BD37 through influence lines and surfaces. Analysis of post-tensioning segmental bridges reflects creep, shrinkage, and all tension losses. Forward-stage large displacement analysis for cable-stay bridges can be handled concurrently with post-tensioning segmental spans in comprehensive construction stages. Bridge-rating capabilities are also included.

Opti-Mate, Inc., software is offered for analysis, design, rating, investigation of concrete deck placement, and AASHTO code check of bridges. Code checks are performed using the AASHTO, WSD, LFD, and LRFD specifications and ratings can be done based upon the WSD, LFD, or LRFR criteria. Software titles include MERLIN DASH for constant-depth, tapered, or haunched steel I-girders, reinforced concrete girders or prestressed concrete girders; DESCUS I for curved I-girders; DESCUS II for curved box girders; SABRE for sign and luminaire structures; and TRAP for truss bridges. In addition to the AASHTO live loads, user-defined live loads can be analyzed.

pcaStructurePoint’s pcaColumn is design and investigation software for reinforced concrete column, pier, and wall sections under axial load and biaxial moment. The section considered can be rectangular, round, or irregular and may contain openings. With any reinforcement layout or pattern, pcaColumn can investigate sections that are impossible to find in design charts. You can obtain the P-M interaction diagrams from both uniaxial and biaxial loading, as well as the Mx-My moment contour plots for even the most irregular column and shear wall sections. Slenderness effects producing magnified moments in accordance with U.S. and Canadian codes are provided as an investigation option.