It is in keeping with new state recycling efforts.
The bridge now stands as a symbol of what recycling can accomplish.
Except for the bolts holding it together and several metal plates atop thermoplastic piling, the entire structure is made up of recycled plastic.
Part of its unique qualities is that it can withstand extreme weight such as a 70-ton tank, said Lowell Stevens, Camp Mackall range officer.
The project is sponsored by the Fort Bragg Directorate of Public Works; Department of Defense/Army Corrosion Prevention and Control Program; and Army Installation Technology Transition Program.
On Oct. 1, North Carolina will become the first state in the Southeast to ban plastic bottles from landfills.
B. K. Jones, Richmond County director of community services, said the county is working with Uwharrie Environmental in Montgomery County on compliance. Unwharrie receives all solid waste from Richmond County for recycling and landfill deposits, .
Jones said he is working to finalize steps to implement a plan to comply with the new state regulations.
The new one-lane bridges at Camp Mackall are expected to last 50 years with little maintenance. They are constructed on some of the more remote unpaved roads on the military installation, a part of Fort Bragg.
The U.S. Army’s Public Works Digest said the first bridge is made of some 85,000 pounds of recycled plastics and is the first known structure of its kind to support military equipment loads exceeding 70 tons.
The bridge was constructed under the leadership of Engineer Research and Development Center’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, the Digest said.
The bridge replaces a wooden one with a load limitation of 4.7 tons.
The article said the goal “was to provide a low-maintenance, affordable structure using recycled materials and avoiding the use of any wood components that require chemical treatments to fight rot and insect attack as well as costly routine maintenance to repair or replace deteriorated members.”
At Camp Mackall/Fort Bragg, the Digest said innovative plastic I-beam components were used to support heavy loads “and to provide a design that is cost-competitive to a treated-wood bridge designed to carry the same load.”
Richard Lampo, materials engineer with CERL, said the U.S. Department of Defense “is interested in recycled plastic as a possible replacement for wood-timber bridges at all of our military installations.”
Stevens said the material for the bridge consists of 65 percent high density polyethylene plastic from dish washing detergent bottles and 35 percent polypropylene plastic from vehicle bumpers which are 34 percent fiberglass.
In keeping with Fort Bragg’s recycling efforts, Stevens said material used at the approaches to the bridge was once concrete blocks from former barracks on base that were demolished.