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Reinforced Concrete Pipe or Box Culvert? Making an Informed Decision

Jul 7, 2021 | Education

At Cemcast, we’re experts at manufacturing precast concrete pipe in many standard sizes. In fact, we are so invested in the benefits of reinforced concrete pipe that it’s in our company name – Cemcast Pipe & Precast. Reinforced concrete pipe is the longest-lasting pipe material in the world – hands down. The concrete pipe we’re manufacturing today will last 100 years. Install it correctly with watertight gaskets and you can forget about it. That pipe will do its job for a lifetime.

Whether it is round pipe, arch pipe or jacking pipe, Cemcast products are manufactured with certified materials and meet or exceed all applicable ASTM standards. But as much as we promote the benefits of reinforced concrete pipe, it’s not always the optimal choice on certain projects where large flows need to be managed.

That’s why, in some instances, we’ll recommend a box culvert run as a value-added change order proposal when a bid specifies larger sizes of concrete pipe. In our experience, when the size of the pipe is beyond a 72-inch round pipe or a 60-inch arch pipe, it’s often better to go with a box culvert.

It’s really just concrete semantics. An arch pipe is one shape, and it flows water. A round pipe is one shape, and it flows water. A box culvert is another shape, and it flows water too. The details of the project should dictate the selection, and that’s where we can help.

The beauty of a box culvert run is the incredible versatility of the system. They can be manufactured to any size to accommodate drainage inverts and road elevations. We’ll make any rise from 30 inches to 16 feet tall up to spans 20 feet wide. Because it is a square box rather than a round or arched pipe, the flat-bottom box delivers increased flow capacity at low head pressures.

Let’s say you have a high volume of water to flow, but you have only 2 ½ feet of clearance. Well, we’ll manufacture an extra-wide box culvert to produce the area needed to accommodate the flow. And, we can customize the end sections to produce the perfect match to the landscape.

Whether the specifics of the project call for round pipe, arch pipe or a box culvert solution, the most important decision a designer, contractor or project owner can make is to first select reinforced precast concrete as the material of choice. Then, partner with Cemcast Pipe & Precast. We’ll lay out all the options and help you choose the perfect precast – whether pipe or box culvert – for your project.

Carl V. Carlson

About the Author

Carl Carlson is president of Cemcast Pipe and Precast, a locally owned concrete manufacturing company based in Hartford, South Dakota, serving the Midwest region with quality products for underground and above-ground infrastructure.

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