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These are first and last supports of a bridge and they retain earth
on their backside, which serves as an approach to the bridge.
Back (Dirt) Wall

Wing Wall

Abutment Cap

Breast Walls (Stem)


Types of Abutment

Gravity Type
Balancing Type

Buried Type

Abutment with wing wall

Some considerations in preliminary planning of abutment

The following measures often help in achieving economy in the design of abutments

Provision of sliding bearings or roller cum rocker bearings or

elastomeric bearing without pin on abutment reduces
horizontal force on the abutment.
Eccentric abutment towards the backfill increases stabilizing

For 5 to 6 m height and spans up to 20m usually solid plain

mass concrete or masonry abutments are economical.
For heights above 6m and spans beyond 20m RC abutments
are suitable.

Preliminary Sizing of Abutment

150mm 2 +
bearing width

300mm to 450mm thick with

75 to 200mm projection

300mm to 450mm thick with

75 to 200mm projection

150mm 2 +
bearing width

1 to 1.5m


1 to 1.5m

1/6 to 1/3 slope

Max. scouring depth

H/12 to H/8

Max. Scouring

0.35H to 0.45H

2/5 H to 3/4 H

H/12 to H/8
H/10 to H/8

Reinforced concrete abutment

Gravity (wall) type abutment

N = 305 +2.5L + 10H mm
L span in m
H- Ht of support in m
0.4 to 0.6m clear distance

Plan of abutment

Materials for Piers and Abutments

[Minimum grade of material]

Mass Concrete - M10 grade

(With mix proportions of 1:3:6 with 40-mm maximum size aggregates.)

Reinforced Concrete - M20 grade

(With mix proportions of 1:2:4)

Coarse Rubble Masonry

(With Cement mortar of proportions 1:4)

Brick Masonry
(With Cement mortar of proportions 1:4)

Prestressed Concrete - M35

1. Vertical loads

Self wt. Of abutment

Dead & Superimposed Dead Load from Superstructure
Live Load
Earthquake load (vertical component)
Wind load (vertical component)
Uplift by braking effort
Load due to soil mass

2. Horizontal loads

Force due to Braking Effort

Force due to Frictional Resistance of Bearing
Wind Load
Force due to Earthquake
Force due to Earth Pressure
Force induced by creep, shrinkage and temperature variation
Force due to surcharge

For working stress design method, there are nine

combinations of loads to be considered in design
Load Combination
(Refer IRC 6)

In Limit State Design Method, there are three combinations

of loads to be considered in design. These three
combinations are
Basic combination
Seismic combination
Accidental combination
These combinations are given for stability check, limit
state of strength, limit state of serviceability and
foundation design.
Partial safety factors for loads for different combinations
and for different works are not similar. They are chosen
on the basis of nature of work carrying out.
Refer IRC 6 2010, Table 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 and 3.4 for
combination of loads

RC Abutment

Transverse Section of

Longitudinal Section of

Loads on abutment from deck

Dead load from deck

Live load from deck


deck (horizontal)

Find Self wt of railing, kerb/footpath, wearing course, slab , cross

beam and main beam per unit length of abutment
Weight / length of abutment
Find maximum live load per unit length of abutment
Live Load on Abutment / Length of Abutment
Find temperature variation range T
Find movement of deck at free end of deck
T Coefficient of Thermal Expansion Span of Deck
Find shear stiffness of bearing from manufacturers list
Horizontal load requires for unit deformation
Find horizontal load on each bearing H
H = Shear Stiffness Movement of Deck
Or H = AGMovement of deck/Thickness of bearing
Find total horizontal load per unit length of abutment
(Horizontal Load on a Bearing No. of Bearings) / Length of Abutment

transverse direction of
bridge (horizontal)

Load due to wind in

transverse direction of
bridge (horizontal)

Find force due to earthquake Feq from superstructure and substructure per unit
length of abutment in longitudinal direction of bridge and find force due to
earthquake Feq from superstructure and substructure in transverse direction of
Feq = W or Z/2 I/R Sa/g

Find force due to wind Fw from superstructure and substructure per unit length
of abutment in longitudinal and transverse direction of bridge
FT w = pACD G
FL w = fraction of FT w

Loads at rear of abutment

Find force due to earth pressure Fb per unit length of abutment

Fb = kaH H

Find force due to Surcharge Fs per unit length of abutment

1.2 m earth fill on the road level is taken as surcharge load
Fs = kawH

Stability Check

Find overturning and restoring moment about toe of abutment for different
load combination

Backfill + DL+ LL+ temperature load/braking load

Backfill + DL+ Surcharge due to compacting equipment/LL

Backfill + DL+ par. LL + seismic load

Check overturning effect

M restoring /M overturning 2 for basic combination
1.5 for seismic combination


Find shear and resisting shear at the base of footing

Shear = sum of horizontal forces at base
Resisting shear = sum of vertical load at base tan

Check sliding effect

V resisting / V sliding

1.5 for basic combination

1.25 for seismic combination
Check bearing pressure at base of footing
Pressure = P/A Pe/Z bearing capacity of soil

Design Of Abutment Cap, Main Stem, Back Wall and Slab Base

Design abutment cap

When bearing stress in cap does not exceed the permissible value of bearing stress in concrete, provide
reinforcement according to IRC78

Design main stem of abutment as a RC slab and check the stem as a RC column
When design axial load on abutment 0.1fck A, abutment is designed as RC cantilever slab

Design back wall as a RC cantilever slab

Back wall is designed for earth pressure and surcharge and check for its self wt. and wt of approach

Design slab base as a spread footing.

Footing is designed for maximum BM and maximum one way shear at the critical sections of footing.

Carry out detailing of reinforcement [Refer cl. 16.3, IRC 112}

Vertical Reinforcement
Dia. of bar 12mm
Total area steel of vertical bar 0.0024 to 0.04 of area of concrete
area of bar in one face 0.0012
Spacing of vertical bars 200 mm

Horizontal Reinforcement
Area of horizontal reinforcement 2.5% of total area of vertical bars
0.001 of concrete area
Spacing of horizontal bars 300 mm
Dia of bar 8mm or one fourth of vertical bars
Transverse Reinforcement
If the area of load carrying vertical bar in two faces > 0.02 area of
concrete theses bars should be enclosed by stirrups

Reinforcement of Abutment

Cross Section

Longitudinal Section

Section at A-A