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Difference between culvert and bridge

What are the Difference b/w culvert and bridge?

Most people confuse when asked the difference between culvert and bridge. Most of people interchange the meaning of these two terms. These terms share some similarities but they are very different from each other.


difference between culvert and bridge


Culvert having 6 m or less than 6 m span between the face of abutments. Culvert is used for drainage purpose. It is constructed to carry vehicles over a small stream or canals. Culvert can be constructed by RCC, plastic concrete, steel, high density polyethylene, aluminum etc. it is embedded by soil. Culvert are located under road way or railway used for prevent the flooding and erosion. Culvert is also known as bridge. bridge can be culvert because can be used as a culvert but culvert is not used as bridge. The culvert is used as a road for low range of traffic volume and low speed of vehicles the design of culvert is based on hydraulic, roadway height, water surface elevation and also some other conditions. Culvert is totally enclosed by ground or soil. Concrete culvert are used mostly in construction site. In concrete culvert the steel may be used in concrete but sometimes the steel does not used in concrete culvert. For providing the culvert the separate embankment should not be constructed. Culvert should be perpendicular to the road way there are some type of culvert which are given below:

Types of culvert:

There are different types of culvert that is given below

  1. Slab culvert
  2. Box culvert
  3. Single Pipe culvert
  4. Multiple Pipe culvert
  5. Single Arch culvert
  6. Multiple Arch culvert
  7. Bridge culvert

Components of culvert:

The components of culvert are follow:

  • Top plate
  • Bottom plate
  • Wing wall
  • Corner fillets
  • Crown


A structure used for to carries a roadway or railway over a lake, river, canal, another road and railway etc. a bridge having more than 6 m. bridges can be constructed in two ways. Pre cast and cast in place. Pre cast means already constructed member of structure off site. While cast in place means constructed of structure members on site. The cost of bridge is more than culvert. In bridge construction different type of materials are used such as concrete, steel, timber, brick, stone, aluminum and fiber etc. the components in bridge structure are deck, girder, abutments, pier, pile cap, foundation and pile. The types of bridges are given below:

Types of bridge by structure:

The types of bridge based by structure are given below

  1. Arch bridge
  2. Cable stayed bridge
  3. Truss bridge
  4. Suspension bridge
  5. Beam bridge
  6. Cantilever bridge

Types of bridge by size:

The types of bridge based on size is given below

  • Minor bridge
  • Major bridge
  • Long bridge
Minor bridge:

Minor bridge having span between 6 m to 60 meter.

Major bridge: 

Major bridge having span more than 60 meter.

Long bridge: 

Long bridge having span more than 120 meter.

Types of bridges according to materials:

The types of bridge based on materials are given below

  • concrete
  • Steel
  • Timber
  • RCC
  • Stone
  • Composite

Types of bridge according to inter span:

The types of bridge according to inter span are given below

  • Continuous
  • Cantilever
  • Simply supported

Difference between culvert and bridge:

There are a lot of difference between culvert and bridge. The difference is given in points below:

S. No Culvert Bridge
1 Culverts are not used for high speed velocity. Bridges are used for high speed vehicles
2 Culverts are constructed when water is passes through tunnel or channel under a road way. Bridges are constructed when water flow is variable and larger in volume.
3 Culverts may be constructed on site but mostly pre constructed. Bridges are constructed on site or pre constructed the small parts of bridges. 
4 The foundation of culvert is not deep. The foundation of bridges is deep because it is used to support heavy loads.
5 The span of culvert is 6 meter or less than 6 meter. The span of bridges more than 6 meter.
6 The structure of culvert are enclosed it may be rectangular, arch circular and half circle etc. A bridge is straight and linear.
7 Culvert are usually embedded in the soil In bridges the pier and abutments are the supporting members of bridge.
8 The component of culvert are simpler and includes pipes, slab, top decks, wing wall, bottom plate, top plate, crown, corner fillets etc. The components of bridge are super structure, sub structure and deck
9 Culvert are used for to prevent from flood, water logging, erosion and passes water under road way or railway. Bridges are used for transportation and passes of vehicles.
10 The cost of culverts is lower than bridge because of its span and some other reason. The cost of culvert are more than culvert because of its span and used for heavy loads
11 The design of culvert are simple The design of bridge are complex than culvert
12 In construction of culvert less labor or man power is required In construction of bridge skilled labor and more man power is required than culvert construction.


The main objective of this article “Differences between culvert and bridge” is that the span of culvert is 6 meter or less than 6 meter and also total cost is low while the span of bridges more than 6 meters having high cost.

So friends I have written all the difference between culvert and bridge as much as I know. If this article is helpful do share it with your friends and leave a comment

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