Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bridge Day Debacle

We'll here are lots of pictures from yesterday. The day we were supposed to get our bridge. Technically, we do have a bridge. And technically, it is laying across the creek. Sigh... read on.

Here's a shot from Friday (the original Bridge Day). The crew from Colorado has their truck backed up to the abutments to attach a steel plate which the bridge will sit on.

The bridge arrived on it's truck on Friday night. It spent the night close to town (across from Certified at the start of Rt. 7). It arrived to the farm at 7am and promptly got stuck in the mud. It turned out this was the least of our problems.
Here's Grant cutting a hole in the deck. They put chains through these holes to help with the unloading and moving of the rail car.

Two things to notice in this photo. First, there are two excavators trying to lift the bridge. They couldn't do it. Second, the truck with bridge is blocking one lane of the road. We were able to use some guys from the gas pipeline to be traffic flaggers for the morning. Normally they cost a lot of money for every hour they work, yesterday they did it for free. We did have to sell our souls to the pipeline company though.

After they figured out that they couldn't lift the bridge off the truck with two excavators, they went and got another excavator. Again, this was all thanks to the pipeline company. The next three photos show the process of unloading the bridge from the trailer.

Once it was unloaded the excavators began the process of getting the bridge into place, since it was unloaded about 100 feet from where it would be set.

At some point they realized the three excavators would not be able to set the bridge on their own. The rail car that was sent was heavier than normal. They had to have a bulldozer with a heavy duty winch to help pull it across the creek and into place.

The following set of photos shows them maneuvering the bridge around a turn and then across the creek. It was at some point while watching all this happen that I really wished my civil-engineer cousin was here.

The bulldozer on one side of the creek wasn't enough, so they sent one of the excavators over.

I'm not sure why, but the excavator dug out part of the hillside, while the bulldozer held it in place.

Then the excavator held onto the bulldozer while it tried to pull the bridge into the right spot.

And right about then was when someone realized that the bridge wasn't going to fit! That's right, the rail car was 5 feet too short. Our bridge is sitting just like this right now. Much lower than it should be, and at a weird angle.

The bridge we'd ordered (and paid for!) was supposed to be 90 feet. The one that was delivered was 85 feet, and that just won't work.

The bridge company has said all the right things at this point. It's their fault, and they are telling us that they will fix this problem and get us a bridge. We do not yet know what the new plan is - it could be adding on to the bridge, or adjusting where the abutments are set. It could even be getting a different rail car. I think/hope they will be able to tell us more tomorrow.

Farmer John and I were pretty upset yesterday, but have calmed down now. We are trying to find the positive parts of this situation, and are trusting that the bridge company will make this right.


  1. As always, photos are great and text descriptive. So sorry the result, so far, is not as good!

  2. Your pictures certainly give an informative step-by-step portrayal of what happened yesterday. Oh, if only the correct RR car had been sent! There is no diminishing the frustration this mix-up has created. However, it is an engineering project and can be corrected, ideally with no significant cost overruns. Someday, this will all be an extraordinary story. We hope the story is told soon with a happy ending.

  3. Good info. Get the bridge you want. You have waited this long...don't rush the project now. It will be really fab when done. Thanks so much for the we can keep Milo busy while the Turkey is cooking! Stay calm and carry on.

  4. Lorraine in WisconsinNovember 21, 2011 at 1:07 AM

    We are going to break out the champagne (=beer) anyway even if it is a bridge too short. It can all be fixed, and you have learned a lot. The help and cooperation you had from others is quite impressive. That bodes well for the successful finish of this project--soon we hope!

  5. I bet the old grist mill that sat very near there was just as hard to get completed! I know it's an old saying, but all things that are worth it are also worth waiting for. I am just so amazed at how well you tell the story Mollie! It's beautiful to see the pics and Jim and I just oohhh and ahhhh over them. Much love and hugs and OH! what fodder for John's science classes huh?


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