Civil Engineering

Things you need to know about culvert

There are numerous different types of culverts, including elliptical, flat-bottomed, pear-shaped, and box-like designs. Culverts are classified according to their load and water flow capacity, longevity, and bedding and backfill installation. The kind is determined by a variety of elements, such as hydraulics, upstream elevation, roadway height, and other circumstances.


Concrete culverts are typically preferred. Culverts made of concrete can be reinforced or unreinforced. Cast in situ culverts are culverts that are built on the spot in particular circumstances. There are also precast culverts available. The aforementioned materials can be combined to create composite culvert types.

Well, in this article we’ll be discussing answers related to culverts;

  • What is a culvert?
  • What are the types of culverts?
  • Where are culverts located?
  • What are the materials used for constructing a culvert?
  • What are the benefits of culverts?

So, let’s begin


What is a culvert?

A culvert is a structure that directs water around a barrier or into a canal beneath the ground. A culvert is typically built of a pipe, reinforced concrete, or another material and is usually implanted such that it is surrounded by dirt. The term can also refer to a longer artificially buried watercourse in the United Kingdom. It is completely surrounded by ground or soil. The common forms utilized under roads and railroads include pipe, box, and arch culverts. The hydraulic, water surface elevation, roadway height, and other parameters are used to build the culvert. They are utilized for controlled water flow. The procedure of daylighting involves eliminating culverts to restore an open-air river. The procedure is also referred to as decelerating in the UK.

Culverts are frequently utilized at natural drainage and stream crossings to pass water under a road as well as cross-drains to ease drainage of ditches at the wayside. They are typically empty when discovered beneath highways. A culvert can also resemble a bridge and be built to let vehicles or pedestrians cross over a canal while still allowing enough room for the water to flow through. Culverts can be found in a variety of sizes and shapes, including elliptical, round, pear-shaped, flat-bottomed, open-bottomed, and box-like designs. The choice of culvert type and shape is made based on a variety of considerations, such as hydraulic performance requirements, restrictions on upstream water surface elevation, and roadway embankment height.

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What are the types of culverts?

types of culverts

The followings are the different types of culverts:

Pipe Arch Culvert

pipe arch culverts resemble half circles. Larger water flows can be handled by pipe arch culverts, but the flow must be steady. Fish or waste from the drainage system can easily be transported to the outlet due to the arch shape without being stocked at the intake or channel bottom. Depending on the need, this sort of culvert can also be offered in numerous quantities. They also improve aesthetic beauty.

Large river openings where fishes can be given a higher hydraulic advantage are suited for arch culverts. Additionally, they offer little clearance and are undoubtedly quite artistic. Pipe arches have a hydraulic advantage at low flows and are particularly beneficial for locations with limited headroom.

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Pipe Culvert

Pipe culverts are rounded culverts that are frequently used. The culverts could be solitary or several in number. A greater diameter culvert is installed if a single pipe culvert is used. If the channel width is bigger, we will use several pipe culverts. These work incredibly well for larger flows. Pipe culverts come in sizes ranging from 1 to 6 meters in diameter. They are constructed of steel, concrete, etc.

Because of their low cost and simple installation, pipe culverts are the most widely used culvert kinds. These can be found in a variety of shapes, including pipe arches, circles, and ellipses. Its shapes often rely on the restrictions and site conditions. On a small scale, pipe culverts represent regular pipes, such as concrete pipes.

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Arch Culvert

Similar to a pipe arch culvert, an artificial floor is constructed in this case for the arch culvert. It is frequently utilized in confined spaces. Concrete was also used to create the arch and the artificial floor. There are also steel arch culverts, although they are very expensive.

Metal, stone masonry, concrete, RCC, and other materials are used to construct arch culverts. It can be built quickly and without disrupting the water flow, unlike a box culvert, therefore there is no need for water diversion during installation. As a result, it qualifies as a Low-Profile Culvert. This kind of culvert preserves the wash bed’s natural integrity.

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Box Culvert

Box culverts are typically made of concrete and have a rectangular shape. Furthermore, reinforcement is provided while building a box culvert. Rainwater is disposed of using these. So, during the dry season, these are useless. In times of drought, animals and other creatures can also use them as bridges to cross the train or the street.

Box culverts are constructed of concrete, particularly RCC (Reinforced Concrete). The need for a dry area to install a box culvert makes that process the most difficult. Yet, when a significant amount of water is anticipated, water direction can be adjusted due to the resilience of the concrete floor. Box culverts are among the culvert forms that are most frequently found because of this characteristic.

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Metal Box Culvert

The more cost-effective option for the bridge is the metal box culvert. These bridges are made from deep-corrugated structural plates or regular structural plates. They are the ideal bridge replacement because they keep the same level of road grade. Its quick manufacture and simple installation make it highly durable. a nice review of Extended service life is present.

Bridge Culvert

In canals and rivers, bridge culverts are provided and also function as car bridges. A foundation is buried beneath the ground for these culverts. A number of culverts are installed, and then a pavement surface is placed on top of them. These culverts, which are typically rectangular in shape, can take the place of box culverts if artificial flooring is not required. Culverts on bridges have two uses. It serves as a culvert as well as a bridge. Bridge culverts are typically built on rivers and canals, and they have a rectangular shape. The ground level is established with a foundation, and the pavement is placed on top of the network of culverts. It can be classified as a multi-Purpose Culvert in general.

Where are culverts located?

Culvert placement should be determined by cost and utility. Usually speaking, it is advised to provide culverts beneath railroad tracks or roads. It is not necessary to build a separate embankment or any other structure to provide culverts. The culverts that are offered ought to be parallel to the road. It should have larger dimensions to accommodate the highest water level and should be situated such that flow may be accomplished with ease. By giving the needed gradient, it is achievable. Culverts are therefore found beneath railroad tracks or roads. The culverts ought to be parallel to the road. However, building a separate embankment is not necessary. The culvert should be placed so that moving water through it is simple.

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What are the materials used for constructing a culvert?

Below shows the materials needed for constructing the culvert;


  • Metal box culverts and arch culverts are built with structural steel plate (SSP), which is stronger and offers superior corrosion resistance. These steels are suitable for making good culverts and are primarily intended for usage in members where increased durability and strength management is important.
  • Due to the strength and flexibility of the pipe, corrugated steel pipes (CSP) are utilized in pipe culverts with round structures because they won’t crack when loads are applied to them. The most flexibility is provided by CSP products to meet specific needs.

Aluminum pipes

  • Aluminum pipes can be built from structural plates or from a single piece of aluminum, and aluminum is primarily utilized to build metal box culverts.
  • It has a relatively Low weight and resistance to corrosion.
  • It has great Recyclability and ductility.


  • Both urban and rural areas have concrete culverts, which are strong and long-lasting and have a lower impact on the environment.
  • increased savings on costs.
  • Installation happens more quickly.
  • lower influence on the environment.

High-density polyethylene

  • High-density polyethylene is used for culverts because it offers a high ratio of strength and durability
  • It also provides higher impact resistance and is lightweight.
  • It’s durable and resistant to the elements.
  • Water distribution underground requires excellent pest resistance.
  • easily formed, nearly any shape is possible.
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What are the benefits of culverts?

Below shows the benefits of culverts

  • By diverting water away from highways and other vulnerable locations, culverts help to reduce the consequences of flooding. This is crucial in regions that are susceptible to heavy rain or snowmelt, such as those that are close to the shore where storm surges are a continual threat.
  • In addition to being beneficial, culverts also help to safeguard the environment. Protecting delicate ecosystems from the development of toxic algae and the spread of illness brought on by stagnant water is made possible by allowing water to flow freely.
  • They act as crucial habitats for fish and other aquatic animals while linking various bodies of water. Both biodiversity preservation and the fishing business profit from this.
  • Culverts are advantageous for roads and other infrastructure because they prevent erosion and washouts. This is crucial in remote areas where maintenance choices could be scarce.

Culvert FAQs

What is the main purpose of a culvert?

Culverts fulfill the twin functions of working as hydraulic structures as well as traffic load-bearing structures because their primary role is that of hydraulic conduits that transport water from one side of a roadway or similar traffic embankment to the other.

What is a culvert in simple words?

a stream or drain that runs underneath a railroad or a road.

What are a culvert and their types?

A culvert is a tunnel construction built beneath a road or a railroad to carry cables from one side to the other or to provide cross drainage. It is completely surrounded by ground or soil. The common forms utilized under roads and railroads include pipe, box, and arch culverts.

Is the culvert a drain?

Culverts are a form of drainage pipe or channel that are incorporated into highways, trains, and bridges to provide a passageway for water to move beneath the surface. Drainage ditches, which are frequently installed on roadway medians, offer runoff a close, secure location to go.

Why is it called a culvert?

a translation of an untranslated Dutch term, possibly *coul-vaart, which combines the Dutch words coul-, from French couler (“to flow”), and vaart (“a trip by boat, a canal”).

What is a culvert also known as?

A culvert is a sewer or water conduit that runs beneath a railroad or road. Other words: gutter, drain, channel, conduit more words for “culvert”

What is the difference between a pipe and a culvert?

One shape that moves water is a round pipe. Another shape of culvert that moves water is a box culvert.

What material is used for culverts?

Typically, concrete, galvanized steel, aluminum, or PVC are used to build culverts. Depending on a project’s budget, span, discharge, topography, soil chemistry, climate, or state regulations, the pipe material utilized may vary.

What is the advantage of culverts?

By using the right blend design, thickness, and reinforcement, it is possible to build it to any required strength. They are affordable. These pipes are capable of withstanding both compressive and tensile stresses. The waterway is located underneath the building.

What are the risks of culverts?

The general public’s safety may be put at risk by culvert failures. They may disrupt the transportation system, demand expensive repairs, and increase traffic congestion. Failures of culverts can potentially harm the riparian ecosystem in the area.

That’s all for this article where the following questions related to culverts were answered;

  • What is a culvert?
  • What are the types of culverts?
  • Where are culverts located?
  • What are the materials used for constructing a culvert?
  • What are the benefits of culverts?

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