Bridge Designed and Built with Recycled Rail Car

Redi-Rock walls create aesthetic abutments to support new bridge


When a bridge was required to access a home building site located in southern Idaho, the client wanted a bridge with clean, simple lines that did not detract from the surroundings. While daily traffic at the "Mortensen Bridge" would be automobiles and light pickup trucks, the governing authority required the bridge to be certified for loads up to 40,000 pounds (18143 kilograms) and have a minimum driving width of 14 feet (4.3 meters).

Recycled rail car used as bridge over streamThis unique project used a recycled rail flat car as a bridge that provides access to a residential development.


The client is an environmental consulting firm dedicated to preserving streams & wetlands in the Rocky Mountains. The firm partners with land developers and home builders to address environmental issues including finding solutions to crossing wetlands and waterways. The firm's clients loved the idea of restoring and enhancing the native ecosystem and were further impressed with utilizing a recycled railroad flat car as a bridge because the idea compliments their overall goals very well.

The client accepted Paragon Bridge Work's recommendation of using two 20 foot (6.1 meter) by 8 foot (2.4 meter) by 1 foot (0..3 meter) bridge spans placed side by side making a bridge that is 20 feet (6.1 meter) long and 16 feet (4.9 feet) wide with a certified load rating of 40,000 pounds (18143 kilograms). The bridge package included a new wooden deck, new steel curb and a fresh coat of paint. To create bridge abutments on either side of the waterway, the designer chose Redi-Rock Cobblestone texture walls. These gravity retaining walls support the weight of the bridge decks as well as traffic. The massive size of each one ton Redi-Rock block relies on the power of gravity to support the earth and the bridge loads.

The client loved the look of the bridge and Redi-Rock abutments and was impressed that the project came in on time and on budget. The total cost for the entire package was around $55,000 and included all bridge and abutment materials, labor to install the bridge and abutments, and all travel expenses and rental fees for the hydraulic excavator and crane.

The concept of recycling railroad flat cars is becoming more popular as one of the most cost effective and practical ways to recycle. In the case of the Mortensen Bridge, a recycled railroad car coupled with Redi-Rock Cobblestone blocks created an inviting and environmentally friendly entrance to welcome homeowners and guests into the development.

Cobblestone gravity blocks support small bridgeRedi-Rock Cobblestone texture blocks were used to support the recycled rail car bridge, providing an aesthetically pleasing look to the project.


Project: Mortenson Bridge #96 Owner: Paragon Bridge Works Block Manufacturer: Mountain West Precast Installer: Paragon Bridge Works Location: Idaho


Gravity Retaining Wall Blocks - Massive, one-ton Redi-Rock gravity blocks rely on the sheer mass of each block to hold back the earth.

Cobblestone Texture Blocks - Redi-Rock Cobblestone blocks feature a great stacked stone aesthetic with the appearance of six smaller blocks.

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