Howrah Bridge is a cantilever bridge with a suspended span over the Hooghly River in West Bengal, India. Commissioned in 1943, the bridge was originally named the New Howrah Bridge, because it replaced a pontoon bridge at the same location linking the two cities of Howrah and Kolkata (Calcutta). On 14 June 1965 it was renamed Rabindra Setu after the great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, who was the first Indian and Asian Nobel laureate. It is still popularly known as the Howrah Bridge.
The bridge is one of two on the Hooghly River and is a famous symbol of Kolkata and West Bengal. The other bridges are the Vidyasagar Setu (popularly called the Second Hooghly Bridge), the Vivekananda Setu, and the newly built Nivedita Setu. It weathers the storms of the Bay of Bengal region, carrying a daily traffic of approximately 100,000 vehicles and possibly more than 150,000 pedestrians, easily making it the busiest cantilever bridge in the world. The third-longest cantilever bridge at the time of its construction, the Howrah Bridge is currently the sixth-longest bridge of its type in the world.
When commissioned in 1943, Howrah was the 3rd-longest cantilever bridge in the world, behind Pont de Québec (549 metres (1,801 ft)) in Canada and Forth Bridge (521 metres (1,709 ft)) in Scotland. It has since been surpassed by three bridges, making it the sixth-longest cantilever bridge in the world in 2013. It is a Suspension type Balanced Cantilever bridge, with a central span 1,500 feet (460 m) between centers of main towers and a suspended span of 564 feet (172 m). The main towers are 280 feet (85 m) high above the monoliths and 76 feet (23 m) apart at the top. The anchor arms are 325 feet (99 m) each, while the cantilever arms are 468 feet (143 m) each. The bridge deck hangs from panel points in the lower chord of the main trusses with 39 pairs of hangers. The roadways beyond the towers are supported from ground, leaving the anchor arms free from deck load. The deck system includes cross girders suspended between the pairs of hangers by a pinned connection. Six rows of longitudinal stringer girders are arranged between cross girders. Floor beams are supported transversally on top of the stringers, while themselves supporting a continuous pressed steel troughing system surfaced with concrete.
The longitudinal expansion and lateral sway movement of the deck are taken care of by expansion and articulation joints. There are two main expansion joints, one at each interface between the suspended span and the cantilever arms, and there are others at the towers and at the interface of the steel and concrete structures at both approach. There are total 8 articulation joints, 3 at each of the cantilever arms and 1 each in the suspended portion. These joints divide the bridge into segments with vertical pin connection between them to facilitate rotational movements of the deck. The bridge deck has longitudinal ruling gradient of 1 in 40 from either end, joined by a vertical curve of radius 4,000 feet (1,200 m). The cross gradient of deck is 1 in 48 between kerbs.