AAccording to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 143,899 bridges were either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete in 2011. County and highway departments are constantly challenged with finding ways to extend the useful life of bridges and maintain their safety while delaying replacement of those bridges. In addition, county engineers are looking for building products that last and require little to no maintenance.

Bridge decking made from recycled plastic and plastic composite building composites produced by Axion International Holdings offers a long-lasting, durable solution that will outperform traditional materials because it won’t rust, splinter, crumble, rot, absorb moisture or leach toxic chemicals into the environment. Axiom’s 100 percent recycled Struxture products will remove 30,000 pounds of plastic from the landfill stream.

In addition to the Dean Road Bridge in Clare, N.Y., the St. Lawrence County Department of Highways has hired Axion to work on two more bridges in the future.

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2009 report states that while $10.5 billion is spent once a year on the construction and maintenance of bridges, a $17 billion annual investment is needed to improve current bridge conditions.

Axion is also supplying recycled building materials to the railroad tracks used by the Trinity Railway Express between Dallas and Fort Worth. The tracks include sections using the Ecotrax railway ties, which are made from a composite of recycled polyethylene plastic and fiberglass. The ties utilize large amounts 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.