Quick Search

387 Bearings

Report ID: 387

Published: Newsletter No 42 - April 2016

Report Overview

A reporter says that the long term characteristics and behaviour of bearings are often underestimated.

Report Content

Bearings are an important component of the superstructure. A reporter says that they are often underestimated in their long term characteristics and behaviour. This includes strength, space for inspection, types of connection and anchorages, and ease of replacement. It is vitally important to have regular inspections of bearings and seatings with maintenance as required and the facility to replace faulty components.

The reporter wonders whether any systematic study on the overall issues of bearing assembly and associated requirements has been done.


The reporter is correct that bearings are important components of bridges and buildings and they may well be neglected. It is important that designers leave sufficient room around bearings for inspection and replacement and that maintenance regimes specify how often inspection should take place. Seized bearings can result in unknown loads being generated and affecting serviceability and ultimate performance.

Failure of the bearings under the Thelwall viaduct on the M62 in 2004 resulted in reported replacement costs of £52 million. There have been other cases where is has been necessary to partially dismantle a structure to maintain or replace bearings. Statements such as ‘designed for life’ or ‘maintenance free’ have to treated with considerable caution.

 A useful reference in this regard is CIRIA publication Safe access for maintenance and repair - Guidance for designers, second edition 2009.

Email Updates

How to Report

Online submission:
Submit by post: