Difference between Bridge and Culvert

Bridge and culvert are important parts of the infrastructure of our civilization.

Both provide routes for transportation, usually over flowing water so we get confused with them.

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:

difference between 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:

Minor Bridge:

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

Major Bridge:

The total span of the bridge is greater than 6om.

Long span bridge:

The main span of the Major Bridge is over 120 meters in length.


A small bridge with 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.

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 of 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 in the bridge.
A small bridge with length of 6 meters or less is known as a culvert.A bridge spans between 6 meters to 120 meters.
The culvert does not require deep foundations.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.Bridges are usually constructed in-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 box culverts, 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, 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 may look much less like a bridge, we usually define a bridge as being 20 feet or longer, otherwise it is a culvert.

Now I’d like to hear from you, which section was new to you or maybe I missed something. Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below.

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.

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