Birch Hill Road Bridge
York, Maine, United States
Client: Town of York
Parsons Brinckerhoff Role: Designer
The first thermoplastic bridge constructed in the U.S. highway system was opened in the state of Maine in December 2011. The new bridge, located on Birch Hill Road west of York Harbor, replaced the existing concrete culvert as the waterway was widened from 3 to 12 feet (0.9 to 3.6 meters). The concrete culvert needed to be replaced because the area of Birch Hill Road often flooded during storms. In the past four or five years, the area of Birch Hill Road has been closed at least twice because of water rushing over the road.
The two-lane bridge is approximately 26 feet (7.9 meters) wide and 14 feet (4.3 meters) long. The bridge consists of a single-span, with curbing, abutment headwalls and wingwalls. The entire bridge components, including girders, piles, pier caps, backwalls, and wingwalls, are made of recycled plastics that would otherwise be discarded into landfills.
Dean Lessard, Director of Public Works for the town of York Maine, commented, “This bridge will be a great addition to our historic, forward thinking and environmental conscience town. Our Board of Selectmen was extremely supportive in utilizing recycled plastic technology to replace the undersized culvert that was prone to causing that section of Birch Hill road to flood. I recommended thermoplastic over other options due to the structure’s timber-like appearance and the product’s environmental credentials combined with its durability and minimum maintenance requirements.”