Wednesday, February 9, 2011
El Mongual Bridge Construction Project - part 1
I'll admit, I'm in over my head, when it comes to blogging about some of our construction projects - especially the bridges. There's engineering involved, and surveying; various stages of construction, loads and stresses and things I just don't really know anything about. In spite of my ignorance, here's my attempt to give you some idea of how our current bridge construction project is going. Perhaps most of you don't know much more than I do about all of this, and then my simplistic explanations will be right on your level. For those of you with more advanced knowledge, I apologize for writing on a topic I know so little about.
The picture above shows the location of the new bridge, in El Mongual, not far from the city of Gracias. You can see, on the ground, the foundations for the walls which will hold up the ends of the bridge on each side of the river. It is currently the dry season, so the river is low and easily forded. When the rainy season starts, however, this is frequently a swollen and raging river, and without a bridge a large number of people are unable to ford the river to get out of their communities during that time.
Up on the hill beyond the river you can see our front end loader. This machine was donated a few years back by Gainesville Presbyterian Church in Virginia. We've found lots of work for the machine to do over the years, but it's on mostly light duty now, as it needs to have the tracks replaced, and that's an expense of about $8000 - not exactly in the budget just now.
The first picture below shows one of the two beams which will support the bridge. The beams are 43 feet long, and they each weigh 20 tons. It's hard to see how long they are in these pictures. You are, of course, looking down the beam from one end. In the next photo you can see that same beam, and the form sitting ready for the pouring of the second beam. In the third photo below, you are looking into the form, and seeing some of the pieces of rebar used to strengthen the beams.
The photos below show some of the men working on the project. Because all of the concrete is mixed by hand, this is a very labor-intensive project. The workers are mostly volunteers from the communities which will be served by the bridge.
This post is long enough already, so I'll continue with more info and pictures a bit later.