Bridge Building

We’ve been building a bridge over the last two weeks.  We replaced a culvert with a small span, crossing a seasonal stream in the middle of our land.  The stream runs most of the year, drying up for a week or two most summers.  It never gushes, but we’ve had problems with the culvert plugging with ice and shifting out of position during the spring thaw.  The bridge should allow us to span the entire streambed and thus avoid the freeze problems.

First we had to pump some of the water out of the small settling pond on the upstream side.

First we had to pump some of the water out of the small settling pond on the upstream side.

We over-excavated and backfilled with gravel under the abutments.  We found that it was easier to pump the water level down just to the point where the excavation was flooded, thus giving ourselves and easy method to judge when the footings were level.

We over-excavated and placed gravel under the abutments. It helped to pump the water level down to the point where the excavation was slightly flooded, thus giving ourselves and easy method to judge when the footings were level.

The abutments were all placed as half-sized "mafia blocks" (for those of you not from New Jersey, you might call them waste concrete blocks or ecology blocks).  We backfilled with more gravel behind the blocks.

The abutments were all placed as half-sized “mafia blocks” (for those of you not from New Jersey, you might call them waste concrete blocks or ecology blocks).  The backhoe couldn’t lift full sized blocks, so we wen’t with the lighter 1,900 lb size.

At this point, we hit a roadblock because our old Case 530 backhoe died a sudden death.  The engine started making a terrible banging clatter and I was only able to run it long enough to get the bucket and outriggers retracted so we could tow it out of the way.  I’m pretty sure a rod is thrown, which means the backhoe is finished.  It needs a new clutch and a lot of hydraulic work, so I think it is time to ship it off to the auction.  I had to rent a pricy but very capable mid-size excavator to finish the project.

The bridge is built on I-beams and decked with 4x6 timbers.

The bridge is built on I-beams and decked with 4×6 timbers.

The approaches still need to be graded, the embankments still need to be armored in rip rap, and the decking still needs running boards, but it is good to have the bulk of the project in place.

The approaches still need to be graded, the embankments still need to be armored in rip rap, and the decking still needs running boards, but it is good to have the bulk of the project in place.

2 Comments on “Bridge Building

  1. I love it Dave! Now I can finally build my dream home on your back property…oh wait, you wanted it for YOUR use?…. =)

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