Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Bridge Building

Two weeks ago one of the guys in the bike club at work sent out an email asking for volunteers to help build a bridge on a local bike path. I’d already canceled my bouldering plans for the weekend since I needed to stay home and get some work done; however, this was only supposed to take a couple of hours, so I decided to take the train down to Folsom and lend a hand on Saturday morning.

I’d heard of the bridge building program before, but didn’t know anything about it past the point that it existed. Basically, most of the bridges built along the bike paths are built with donated money and volunteer help. The program is run by the Sacramento Area Bicycle Association, and the Folsom Area Bicycle association. For the most part, the paths around Sacramento and on the river bike trail have all the bridges they need. Folsom, where I work, is a different story though. Despite being a huge urban sprawl, there are actually large numbers of people doing a pretty good job of keeping the city bike friendly. They already have about 40+miles of bike paths in the city thus far, and at least that much more in the works.

The plan was to build a bridge between two parallel paths going on opposite sides of a small river. One of the paths ran along side a major street; the other path ran by an apartment enclave. This particular apartment complex was different, though, in that it was assisted living for the elderly. This meant that the bridge would actually serve more use than the local bikers, since the elderly residents are more prone to go for walks. (Unlikely the young and healthy residents of the community) This potential bridge was big news for them, especially for an 98 year old man who currently walked 20 quarter mile laps around his building each day. The newspaper got a hold of the story, and it was made into a big deal, with a ribbon cutting ceremony and all.

A contractor was hired to do the concrete, and drop the trusses into place. All we had to do was put the decking and rails on. Everything was predrilled, so it was basically on big erector set. Lots of fun.

One thing for sure, it was rather surreal watching an ensemble of elderly residents slowly make the inaugural crossing, complete with canes, walkers, and electric carts.

In the news: (I made the Sac Bee twice in as many weeks!)
Sac Bee


Blogger Steven Wong said...

Hi. I am an engineer and I have never seen a bridge erected so fast. Do you have the contact information and website on how it can be done.

Thanks and regards,

7:30 PM  
Blogger Steven Wong said...

Also can it be applied for vehicle traffic such as motorbikes and cars.

Thanks again.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Frick said...

It is a class 1 bike path bridge capable of withstanding 10000 lbs, as to be able to support emergancy vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks.

I don't know how long it took to do the concrete, and set the girders in place. It took 6 people about 6 hours to put the bridge on the trusses, but that was with pre-drilled holes in everything. It would have taken significantly longer if we would have had to drill everything.

7:49 PM  

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