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County using train cars to replace bridges
new deh train car bridge main pic
A Barton County Road and Bridge Department crew uses a crane to place a half or round railroad car in the ground southeast of Beaver this week. It was used to replace a collapsed culvert. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

The Barton County Road and Bridge Department has replaced six culverts recently. This may not sound like big news, except that one of the jobs incorporated a new, unique method.
Crews finished installing this week a half of a recycled round railroad tank car as a culvert southeast of Beaver. Repairing a collapsed large-size culvert and correcting drainage problems in the area, this marked only the second time the department has incorporated this technique.
“This just gives us another tool to work with,” said Dale Phillips, Road and Bridge director, of the use of recycled train cars.  “There are a lot of counties that are doing this,” including Pawnee and Rush.  
The cars come from the Stillwater, Okla., recycling company The Railroad Yard, and cost about $9,800. By the time the whole project is done, the pricetag is about $15,000.
The process can hold time, labor and cost savings, depending on the situation, size and location. Some of the larger culverts, like the one replaced this week, are actually considered small bridges.
Depending on the job site, the railroad cars can be more economical, Phillips said. Also, there are some soils in the county that are corrosive to standard galvanized steel or concrete structures.
The most recent train car job took about a week from start to finish. Crews removed the old culvert, prepared the ground for the new structure, rented a crane to lower the car into place, attached plates to the end and covered it.
Sometimes a pre-cast concrete bridge “box,” a cast-in-place concrete bridge or a standard culvert work better. But, “every job is a little different,” Phillips said.
His staff evaluates each project to see what would be the best option for each location. “We like to use some ingenuity in doing things,” he said.