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NY County Uses Recycled Building Materials to Address Aging Bridges

Recycled plastic and plastic composite building composites are being used to repair and restore bridge decking on a bridge in Clare, New York, a move which will result in 30,ooo pounds of plastic being taken out of the landfill stream, says Axion International Holdings, the maker of the products used in the bridge repairs.

Axion says a second order for 6″ x 24″ tongue & groove Struxure boards from the St. Lawrence County Department of Highways has been made for the Dean Road Bridge, and that the company is working with the county on two more bridge projects also using Axion products. Struxure products are made from 100% recycled materials, and are long-lasting, durable, and outperform traditional materials because they won’t rust, splinter, crumble, rot, absorb moisture or leach toxic chemicals into the environment, the company says.

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2009 report states that while $10.5 billion is spent annually on the construction and maintenance of bridges, a $17 billion annual investment is needed to substantially improve current bridge conditions. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 143,899 bridges were either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete in 2011. County and municipal highway departments are faced with the challenge of prolonging the useful life of these bridges and maintaining their safety, and are looking for building products that last and require no maintenance.

St. Lawrence County Superintendent of Highways Toby Bogart says the Struxure boards used as an alternative to stay-in-place concrete forms on a culvert project last year were easy to install and durable through New York’s harsh weather conditions. He also said that the recycled products are a good investment because they are impervious to water and salt and don’t get the wear and tear that traditional materials do over time.

Another project using Axion’s recycled building materials is the railroad tracks used by the Trinity Railway Express between Dallas and Fort Worth. Those tracks include sections using Axion’s Ecotrax railway ties, which are made from a composite of recycled polyethylene plastic and fiberglass, writes the Dallas Business Journal. The ties include millions of pounds of plastic, such as milk jugs, shampoo bottles, and detergent bottles, that would otherwise have gone into a landfill, says Axion president and CEO Steve Silverman. Using these ties, which are lighter than concrete, means the project requires less ballast, says Tim McKay, executive vice president of growth and regional development for Dallas Area Rapid Transit. That means they reduce the overall cost of the railroad.

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