Weathering Steel: A Sustainable Solution to Bridge Construction

Lifespan of weathering steel

Weathering Steel: A Sustainable Solution to Bridge Construction

Sustainability and “green building” are terms we hear more and more of these days in bridge construction. However, environmentally-sensitive building is not a new phenomenon. The modern practice of green building emerged in the 1990s. Sustainable building involves many components, such as energy efficiency, water management, reducing waste, and selecting sustainable materials. 

The raw materials used in bridge construction and fabrication contribute to the bridge’s environmental footprint. Consequently, choosing sustainable materials, such as steel, can positively impact the environment. 

Weathering Steel Bridge

Why are steel bridges sustainable? 

Short Span Steel Bridges recently published an article explaining 5 reasons why steel bridges are sustainable

  1. Steel is the most recycled material in the world. 
  2. Steel bridges have extremely long service lives, which decreases the need for replacement. 
  3. Steel causes minimal disruption to the construction site. 
  4. Prefabricated steel bridges can be set in minutes, which reduces construction time and potential traffic detours. 
  5. Steel can serve future generations because it can be strengthened and adapted to increase loadings or widen roadways. 
  6. The article went on to highlight weathering steel as a sustainable solution to bridge construction. 


Weathering Steel Bridge

How is weathering steel a sustainable solution to bridge construction? 

Weathering steels, often referred to as Cor-ten®, are a family of ASTM specifications and several trademarked specifications exhibiting similar corrosion-resistant properties. The high-strength, low-maintenance, and cost-effective benefits that weathering steel offers make it a sustainable solution for bridge construction. 

Weathering steel bridges offer even more advantages, such as: 

  • Corrosion resistance: Due to its chemical makeup, weathering steel forms a protective patina that prevents corrosion. In fact, the corrosion rate is so low that bridges fabricated from unpainted weathering steel can achieve a 120-year design life with minimal maintenance.
  • Aesthetic appeal: The unpainted appearance of weathering steel blends well in gardens, backyards, parks, and other outdoor environments where bridges are required. 
  • Minimal maintenance: Periodic inspection and cleaning should be the only maintenance required to ensure the weathering steel bridge continues to perform well. This characteristic makes weathering steel ideal for bridges where access can be difficult and disruption needs to be minimized.


The ASTM specifications for High Strength Enhanced Atmospheric Corrosion Resistant or Weathering Steels are ASTM A588 an ASTM A709-50W for plate, angles, beams, channels, flat bar, round bar and square bars and ASTM A847 for square and rectangular pipe and tubing.

ASTM A847 hollow structural sections are commonly recommended for bridge construction. Weathering steel Hollow Structural Sections (HSS) add strength and beauty to any steel structure. Plus, with weathering steel hollow structural sections, you need less steel to do the same job.

Contact Central Steel Service for Weathering Steel Hollow Structural Sections

Central Steel Service stocks high-strength, corrosion-resistant weathering steel in Hollow Structural Sections, including pipe and tube, in ASTM A847. We also stock ASTM A588 & ASTM A709-50W Plate, Angle, Channel, Beams, and Bar.  If you are not leveraging the advantages of High Strength Weathering Steels in your projects, we encourage you to reconsider. Contact one of our experienced sales associates to learn more about our weathering steel availability.