Photo Courtesy of Bentley Systems
The integrated analyzer runs grillage, or line-girder analysis, and then performs comprehensive design code checks and load ratings based on results. Analysis in 3D is expected in a later release.

Bentley Systems Inc. has produced new software for the design, analysis, load rating and 3D modeling of "everyday" steel bridges. It complements another Bentley product for designing similar bridges in concrete. One early user of the new tool for steel says her firm already has used the pair to create a bridge proposal using alternative materials.

The products use technology Bentley acquired in 2008, with the purchase of concrete bridge modeler and analyzer LEAP Software, now sold as LEAP Bridge Enterprise V8i. It's a parametric modeler with built-in analysis, design, code-checking and load-rating applications. It integrates concrete bridge design components, from foundation to superstructure, in one interface.

The new product, LEAP Bridge Steel, offers similar capabilities for designing with steel. Like its sister product, it adheres to AASHTO Load and Resistance Factor Design Specifications. Its designs also can be used in conjunction with Bentley's MicroStation, GEOPAK, InRoads, MXROAD, InspectTech and Power Civil products.

"It's a huge investment by the company to do this," says Ron Love, Bentley's senior product manager for bridge information modeling (BrIM). "But there has been a call for steel-bridge design software for this class of bridges, and it's a natural evolution of our development." The list price is $6,995.

Michael A. Grubb, an engineer with Grubb & Associates, Wexford, Pa., says Bentley deserves credit. "Writing design software for steel bridges and analysis is not an easy, especially the way they are tackling it. They're trying to do the whole thing," he says.

Christian P. DeWalt, a structural engineer with Greenman-Pedersen Inc., Babylon, N.Y., says she is excited by the product. "It's very intuitive and logical and quick, and structural analysis is part of the software. When you hit 'analyze and code check,' you see results right away." DeWalt says, for a first release, "I think it's very good as it is, but as they develop it, it will become great."