Thursday, July 25, 2013

Raising the beams - Part 4

These pictures are from the raising of the final four beams at the Las Flores bridge. Parts 1 - 3 of this series can be seen below this post.

Keep in mind that these beams were set over the course of several weeks. Although we have months of no rain, when this river is nothing but a trickle, funding and scheduling problems (not stuff that was in our control) meant that we didn't start this phase of the work until the rains had already started. So, during all of this work, we had one eye on the cranes, one on the water level, and one on the sky. Yes, I know that's more than two eyes. I watched the sky from home, as our place is up high with a commanding view in all directions, while the bridge is down in a valley. When I saw storm clouds approaching from any direction, I called Allen with the weather report. I called again with updates as any potentially wet weather headed his way. Because of the mountains all around Gracias, and because our rain tends to come in sudden torrential downpours, flash flooding is a common occurrence, and we needed to be sure to keep the cranes and other equipment (and the workers!) safe and able to get out of the riverbed if necessary.

We were so relieved once the beams were all up in place! There is still a lot of work to do on this bridge, but none of the rest is expected to be as stressful as this part was. We've had several visiting mission teams during the summer (including one right now), and we have Rachel's wedding coming up in two weeks, so there hasn't been much happening at the bridge since the beams went up. I'll let you know when the men are back at it!

Placing the final beam!

Prayer gathering, giving thanks for success and safety, after the final beam was up.
Cranes packing up and getting ready to leave

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Raising the beams - Part 3

In case you missed them, Part 1 and Part 2 immediately precede this post. I am relating events which happened about a month ago - my life hasn't really left space for blogging recently! The water in the river is much higher now. The cranes arrived right as the rains were starting this year, and the crane owners were barely willing to work in the riverbed by the time the final beam was in place.

If you've read the previous two posts, I doubt you'll need any additional information to understand what is happening in these photos. If you DO have a question, go ahead and ask in the comments.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Raising the beams - Part 2

In Part 1, you saw the first beam of the Las Flores bridge raised into position. In Part 2, you'll see glimpses of the process as the 2nd through 7th beams are raised.

Hoist that beam! This is the second beam going up, in the shadow of the old bridge.

A Catholic procession, with more than a hundred people, crosses the old cable bridge.

Boys swim while watching the progress on the bridge.

Setting the fifth beam into place

In this photo, you can see the bulldozer moving the path of the river water. The water flowed over on the far left side, as work was done with the cranes in the middle and on the right side. The bulldozer will create a channel for the water to go under the center of the bridge, and will create a dry, level spot for the cranes to set up under the left side of the bridge.

Here the water is starting to flow through the center part of the bridge, as the 6th beam is raised over on the right.

Setting up to move the 7th beam

Putting the 7th beam into place

Stay tuned for the next installment!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Raising the beams - Part 1

I know you've been waiting for them (you especially, Jane, LOL) . . . and here they are: the pictures from the work of putting the concrete beams up on the bridge in Las Flores!

These photos are from the first day, and the very very start of the second day, because the crane operators wouldn't stay late and get the first beam up the first day, but insisted on waiting for morning. You can imagine how frustrating that was for Allen!

One of the cranes fording the river upon arrival

Russell hitching a ride across the river

Setting up, with the old hammock bridge in the background

Russell supervising the moving of the squared logs, used to hold the concrete beams up off the ground
Here goes the beam, headed toward the bridge . . .

The cranes don't roll forward while holding the beams - they lift the beam, stretch out as far as possible, lower the beam (preferably without tipping over) . . . then they move into a new position and lift the beam again. Lots of slow, tedious bits of movement, lifting up and putting down, interspersed with planning and discussion related to the limitations of the cranes!

Readjusting. This whole process was not as smooth as it looks in these photos.

See the squared off log. These were moved around a bit, too.

Now the beam is up close to the bridge and ready to be lifted up!

Even this close to being in place, the beam had to be set down into a temporary location so that the cranes could be moved. Then the beam was lifted from this slot and moved over to where it belongs.

 . . . coming in for a landing . . .

There! First beam in place, and only eleven more to go!
There will be more pictures to come, of the completion of this phase of the work. I'll get to them as I can . . . things are crazy busy here these days, what with the wedding planning, a team arriving tomorrow, etc.