Sliding and rotation operations are used to install structures that must overpass or underpass obstacles like railroad, highway, or valley crossings.

These operations can be performed at ground level on a short distance, and at heights, when heavy structures are shifted to their final position or when heavy loads are removed from their current position. These methods apply to new build projects, structure dismantling or when replacing part of an existing structure.


Launching is a longitudinal sliding method that allows to cross gaps. It is the preferred construction method for bridges crossing valleys or rivers. The bridge deck is prefabricated behind one of the abutments. Installation consists in sliding deck sections over sliding bearings onto the bridge piers, while a launching nose prevents bending moments, as part of the installation is done above the void. Launch is operated with high-capacity hydraulic jacks.
  • Cost-effective solution
  • Minimal traffic disruption of underpass lanes
  • No impact of bridge height

Autoripage® structure sliding technique

This patented method developed by Freyssinet enables the installation of a structure entirely prefabricated on a nearby base -usually next to the road or railway track - and sliding it to its final position onto bentonite grout, after completely clearing the ground. After sliding completion, backfilling is carried out to re-open the route to traffic. The method is particularly appropriate for railroad crossing.
  • Fast execution
  • Short track closure
  • New structure built near final position

Autofonçage® structure sliding technique

Also developed by Freyssinet, Autofonçage® is a patented structure sliding method which enables the creation of a short underpass structure under traffic lanes in operation. It consists in prefabricating sections of the structure (concrete frames), then sliding them after partly clearing the ground and driving the structure forward into the infill as the excavation work progresses. No backfilling is required, as the volume of earth excavated equals that of the structure.
  • Fast execution
  • Reduced traffic disruption
  • Structure sections built near final position

Air Pad Sliding

Air Pad Sliding (APS) is an alternative to Autoripage® using APS bearings, a patented device: after clearing the ground, heavy structures are horizontally moved to their final position along skidways onto APS modules. Skidways are equipped with side guides and adapted to the bearing capacity of the soil. Once the sliding operation is completed, backfilling takes place to re-open the route to traffic.

Applications: bridges, buildings, offshore structures, industrial facilities.
  • Friction coefficient <1 %
  • Skidding speed up to 150m/h
  • Multidirectional lifting and sliding

Lateral sliding

When a bridge deck needs to be replaced, a practical solution consists in building the new one next to the old one. Therefore, the new deck is built on a temporary support. Once completed and during a short possession, the old deck is de-slided and the new one slided into final position. This method allows replacement of long decks at heights, when cranage is impossible.

Applications: bridges, energy infrastructures.
  • Friction coefficient < 5%
  • Sliding speed up to 15m/h
  • Long and heavy slide


When it is impossible or costly to build overpass bridges above the obstacle to overcome (e.g. motorway in operation), rotation operations are interesting solutions to install bridges in their final position. In this case, the structure is built perpendicular to its final position, along the track. Rotation is operated from a central pivot or from an end pivot (located at one of the bridge deck’s ends).
  • Friction coefficient < 5%
  • Minimum traffic disruption

Related projects

Lennetal Highway Bridge
Luftbild, Neubau der Lennetalbrücke A45, Berchum, Sauerlandlinie, Autobahnbrücke, Hagen, Ruhrgebiet, Nordrhein-Westfalen

Lateral sliding / Lennetal Highway Bridge, Germany

It took less than 6 hours to move the 30,000 ton, 1,000-metre-long Bridge by 19.15 meters sideways in its final position.

Load out / Oil Rig Baronia at Ulsan, Korea

17’000 ton weighing oil rig was shifted to load on bord of a barge and eventually put into operation in the Gulf of Thailand

Combined APS sliding & heavy lifting operations / Ashalim Solar Power Station, Israel

APS sliding of a 2,300t. boiler on 64 m from the assembly area to the power station tower

Bridge launching / Bowstring bridge, Casablanca, Morocco

The 330-ton steel structure of the Bowstring Bridge was launched over the A3 city highway crossing. The operation took place overnight, resulting in a short traffic closure and minimal disruption as the arch bridge was pre-assembled next to the roadway.

More case studies

Hebetec, the Freyssinet lifting and heavy handling specialist

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