Difference between Bridge and Culvert

Bridge and culvert are important parts of the infrastructure of our civilization, both provide routes for transportation, usually overflowing water, so we get confused with them.

A bridge is a passage of transportation (for people or vehicles) over a large body of water or physical barrier, while a culvert is typically a tunnel-like structure that allows water to pass through a road or railway, the culverts are usually embedded in the soil which bears the major culvert load.

However various components such as length, objective, the complexity of design, construction components, and structure are specific parts between bridges and culverts.

Bridge and culvert:


A drainage structure that facilitates a communication route to carry highway or railway site visitors throughout a barrier or depression with or without water known as a bridge.

The route of communication generally is a railway, roadway, cycle track, footpath, or a combination of both and the obstacle may be in the form of a river, stream, valley, channel, highway, railway track, and many others.

Types of Bridges:

1.Minor Bridge:

The total span of the bridge is more than 6 meters and less than 60 meters.

2.Major Bridge:

The total span of the bridge is greater than 6o m.

3.Long span bridge:

The main span of the major bridge is over 120 meters in length.


This types of bridges has a total length of 6 meters or less is known as a culvert, these are permanent drainage structures mainly built to carry roadways or railway tracks over small rivers or canals.

Culvert lining is a trenchless method, allowing culverts to be restored instead of replaced, Culvert lining eliminates the traffic disruption, increased cost, and permitting difficulty that comes with conventional replacement.

Culvert lining prevents culvert failure. 

Difference between Bridge and Culvert:

Culvert      Bridge
These components of a culvert are comparatively easy to encompass concrete boxes or cells, pipes, high deck or slab and supporting elements.These basic components of a bridge are superstructures, substructures and decks (transferring surface loads to other components).
A culvert is typically a tunnel like structure that allows water to pass through a road or railway.A bridge is a route for transport over a large body of water or physical barrier.
These culverts are usually embedded in soil, which forms a major part of the culvert load.Abutments and piers are the supporting structures of a bridge.
Culverts are fully enclosed structures that may be semi-circular, rectangular, elliptical or pear-shaped.A bridge is usually a straight and linear arrangement.
The culvert is a cover structure consist of two sides, a roof and a floor.There is no floor on the bridge as that in the culvert.
A small bridge has a span length of 6 meters or less. A bridge spans between 6 meters to 120 meters.
The culvert does not require a deep foundation.Building a deep and strong basis is essential in the construction of a bridge.
These culverts are constructed 20 feet high over the obstruction.These bridges have been constructed at a height greater than 20 feet.
Culverts may be pre-built or built on site.Culvert and bridge is usually constructed on-site or pre-built in small parts.
Culverts are simple in structure and design, so it can be constructed with little time and labor.Building bridges usually requires a lot of time and manpower.
The culvert can be constructed with a low budget.The structure and design of a bridge is elegant and complex, so a substantial budget is required for its construction.
The culvert can be constructed to accommodate roadways above and below the deck of bridge.This only mode of transport is on the deck of the bridge.
Some culverts such as a box culvert have sharp corners that are unsuitable for high-velocity vehicles.Bridges can withstand heavy and fast vehicles.
A culvert is constructed when water is required to be transported through tunnels or channels down the road.A bridge is built on a body of water that is large and has variable flow.
Culverts prevent waterlogging, flooding, and erosion, also allow water to flow its natural course under a roadway or railway.The bridge provides an easy route for transportation which saves time and shortens the distance.


Technically, a culvert and bridge may look similar, we usually define a bridge as being 20 feet or longer, otherwise it is a culvert.

Hello, I'm Rahul Patil founder of Constructionor.com, I had studied B.E. Civil. This blog provides authentic information regarding civil structures, equipment, materials, tests & much more.

Leave a Comment