Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Design of a Culvert Crossing

I am a current first year environmental engineering student. The final project for our 'Introduction to Civil & Environmental Engineering' course involved the predesign of a culvert crossing on campus. A culvert is a tunnel that allows water to pass through. They are often used to allow water to pass under roadways.

Currently there is a by-pass channel (flowing body of water) on campus. There is a crossing with two steel culverts that allows water to flow under the crossing. The project was to develop a more advanced culvert system that would be able to handle a greater amount and speed of water. The replacement culvert was to be designed to stand up to a hundred year storm. A hundred year storm is the largest storm that would be expected to occur in the area within a hundred year period.

We spent hours outside surveying the site. We recorded the elevations of the land around the channel and even put on waders and surveyed through the channel. We recorded the distance between all points so that they could accurately be plotted on an AutoCAD map.

Once the data were collected we created a map of the area, and developed a design for a replacement culvert. We had to consider the quantity and speed of water from a hundred year storm.

The project was very open ended. It was up to us to specify the finer details of the proposed crossing. We had the option of designing a sidewalk and guardrail if we thought it was necessary and we had to determine a suitable road width based on how much traffic the site sees. We had to compare the efficiency of 5 different culvert diameters and the number of culverts was completely up to us.

Ultimately, the design that I proposed included 6 culverts, each having a 1.2 meter diameter.

Through the experience, we all developed our surveying and autocad skills, and learned about report writing.


  1. Nice report.
    Despite very low rain fall here (Muscat) I saw some prefabricated (Hardend rubber) used as a culvert.

  2. Nice report but i will like to see the design criteria and hydraulic equation.

    Adeyemi S A
    Lagos Nigeria

  3. Good thing you were already exposed to that kind of project at such an early time. Usually, it's mostly lectures and exams during the first year. Nothing beats hands-on learning, right? Btw, what were the equipment you used in surveying the site? I hope your proposition passed the standards of your professor.