Saturday, January 21, 2012

The big bridge project - the first concrete pour

In the photo above, you can see our crew finishing up the digging for the first wall of the bridge. The deeper spot is one of those "teeth," giving the wall extra depth in spots along it's length. Where the trench gets wider is something Allen calls a "strongback." This is a spot where the wall will be extra thick, again adding strength with less cost than making the entire wall that thick.

Edited to add: Allen told me that I was mistaken about the "strongback." The spot where the wall has extra width will be where they will pour a column. The columns will support the strongback, which will be more like a horizontal beam. Sorry for my error . . . although I should get some credit for not making more of them, considering my total lack of construction knowledge.LOL

Water is collected for the mixing of concrete.

Volunteers from one of the nearby villages which will benefit from the new bridge gather to help with the pour. On regular work days we have our paid crew, on pour days we also have groups of volunteers. The local government keeps a schedule of which villages are to send workers on which days.

Bags of dry cement, buckets of sand, buckets of gravel and water are mixed together in a specific proportion. Generally our kids all go along on pour days, and act as supervisors, counting to be sure the correct proportions of cement, sand, gravel and water are maintained. This is extremely important to ensure that the strength of the final wall is sufficient for the weight it will need to support.

A member of our paid crew stands at the edge of the trench and supervises as the volunteers pour buckets of cement into the trench. At intervals, large stones are thrown in as well.

As this is the first pour, the men are creating a "footer." This is basically a flat slab, upon which the actual wall will sit. There isn't any sort of form or mold; they are simply making the footer the size of the bottom of the trench.

In case you missed them, here are the previous posts about this project:

Las Flores - Our biggest bridge project ever!

More on the big bridge project

Big Bridge Construction Project - still digging


Anonymous said...

You do know how to tell when you've lived overseas too long, right?

It's when you type a sentence like, "our kids go along to quality-control a major bridge construction project" - without laughing.

And when I read it and completely believe you, that says something too, I suspect. :)



I loved this post. It is such a great snapshot of the whole scene, the process, the controlled/orchestrated chaos, etc.

Trish said...

Oh my, you're right! I typed that sentence without even a thought of irony, humor, or anything! LOL

I'm glad you're enjoying the bridge posts, Johanna!

Beth said...

Trish I LOVE the bridge posts! And I don't know why, not in my area of expertise or training or experience but I find these building projects with all the ingenuity required quite fascinating. I feel like I'm along for the ride with the Swiss family Robinson!! Thanks for sharing!!