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Bridge manual (SP/M/022)

Published: | Category: Structures (bridges & culverts) , Manuals | Audiences: Road traffic engineers & consultants, Roading contractors

This Bridge manual sets out the criteria for the design and evaluation of bridges, culverts, stock underpasses and subways, the design of earthworks and retaining structures.

The manual is a companion document to the overarching Highway structures design guide which provides general and specific design criteria for all highway structures. 

Highway structures design guide

Publication details

  • Author:
  • Published: May 2013
  • Reference: SP/M/022
  • Version: 3
  • ISBN/ISSN: 978-0-478-37161-1 (online) | 978-0-478-37162-8 (print)
  • Conditions: Use is mandatory on state highways or for the design of other new or replacement bridges proposed for funding from the NLTF.
  • Amendments: #4 – May 2022
    #3 – October 2018
    #2 – May 2016
    #1 – September 2014

The manual has been developed by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency for use on state highways or for the design of other new or replacement bridges proposed for funding from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF). Use of the manual on other highways, including private highways, may be considered appropriate with the agreement of the relevant road controlling authority, client or landowner.

Structures technology is an area of ongoing research and refinement and the manual is reviewed from time to time to incorporate important corrections and amendments.

The Bridge manual was first issued by Transit New Zealand in May 1994. The second edition was published in June 2003. This third edition, the first to be released wholly by Waka Kotahi, was released in May 2013.

The Bridge manual commentary is an informative commentary that provides background to various sections of the Bridge manual. It will be added to as appropriate. 

The Bridge manual and Bridge manual commentary can be downloaded from the links on this page and be reproduced for personal or in-house use without formal permission or charge.

Printed copies of the Bridge manual can be purchased from Excel Digital, for $110 plus GST including freight (white ring binder) or $80 plus GST including freight (saddle stapled book). To order a copy, email

Note that the copy of the manual supplied will be current at the time of purchase but no further updates will be supplied. Updates will be available via this website.

Implementation of amendment 4

Amendment 4 to the Bridge manual (3rd edition) may be implemented immediately. For existing highway projects, confirmation should be sought from Waka Kotahi, or the relevant road controlling authority for non-state highway schemes, whether this amendment may be used or works should still be undertaken in accordance with earlier versions of the Bridge manual.

With the publication of this amendment 4, the status of the following Technical Advice Notes (TANs) should be noted:

TAN Status

#22-02 Interim technical standards for the design of timber bridges

Remains current. Will be cancelled by a future amendment to the Bridge manual.

#21-13 Seismic design of the facing-to-reinforcing connections for mechanically stabilised earth structures

Withdrawn. Superseded by publication of amendment 4.

#21-12 Design and procurement of geosynthetics for soil reinforcement

Remains current.

#20-15 Use of timber poles for ground improvement

Withdrawn. Superseded by publication of amendment 4.

#19-07 Bridge manual – mechanical reinforcement couplers and anchors – interim advice (July 2019)

Superseded by publication of amendment 4.
However, the requirements of this TAN shall remain in place for a period of six months (ie until the end of November 2022) as alternative means of compliance.
Note that for projects tendered prior to the publication of amendment 4, the requirements for couplers and anchors that applied when the project was tendered shall apply unless agreed otherwise with the Waka Kotahi Lead Advisor Structures, whereupon the requirements of amendment 4 shall apply instead.

#19-06 Bridge manual, third edition, amendment 3


#17-09 Verification testing of steel materials

Remains current.


Bridge manual – 3rd edition (current)

Bridge manual commentary – 196 pages [PDF, 3 MB]

Bridge manual – 2nd edition (superseded by 3rd edition) is available for reference purposes