Concrete @ your Fingertips

Bridge expansion joints

Bridges expand and contract due to temperature changes. In larger structures expansion joints are required to accommodate the resulting movements between adjacent bridge deck spans or between the bridge deck and abutment. The joint must provide a suitable running surface for traffic crossing the expansion gap. Various types of joint are defined in the Highways Agency’s BD 33, Expansion joints for use in highway bridge decks. The choice of the appropriate joint will depend on a number of factors, including the imposed loadings, anticipated movement, temperature range, deck shortening and rotation.

Further information may be obtained from the Bridge Joint Association (

(note that from 1 April 2015, Highways Agency has changed name to Highways England)

Acknowledgement: Concrete Society

Other references:Concrete Society Curent Practice Sheet 137, ´Bridge joints´, Concrete, March 2004, pp 53 & 54.
(Note that Concrete Society Current Practice Sheets can be downloaded from the Members Area of the Concrete Society web site.)