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Day 5: It’s beginning to look like a bridge!

Day 5: It’s beginning to look like a bridge!

July 18, 2014

Thursday, July 3 started off early for Tomas, Reece, Blake, and Eric who were onsite by 6 a.m. to set the sag on all four cables. This extra effort made on their part would allow the rest of the team to begin work immediately after breakfast, saving a lot of time for the rest of the day’s activities. It was still going to be a fast-paced day, but luckily the temperature was in our favor with just a light mist and cloud cover.

DSC_0161Our primary task this day was hoisting the crossbeams and suspension cables onto the main cable. All of them were assembled on the La Conga side, so the team prepared the site and was able to begin the process early in the day. Up on the scaffolding Haluk and Blake tag-teamed with Carlos, B2P’s construction manager, to hoist the beams. Carabineers were clipped to the suspension cable attached to each cross beam and pulled up to the top of the scaffolding. The team on the towers hooked the suspension cable over the two large cables as well as a smaller pull cable. Then the suspender had to be clamped to secure it over the cables. Once the suspenders were loaded onto the cable, they would be pulled into the middle of the bridge (so the shortest suspenders are loaded first as they would end up in the middle) with each set hanging one meter from the next.

Kim helps Haluk into the fall protection harness.

Kim helps Haluk into the fall protection harness.

This was Haluk’s first time on the scaffolding in a fall protection harness: “It’s a bit challenging because you are straining yourself in an uncomfortable position sticking your neck out between scaffolding and getting the hang of what to do and how to do it.”

Meanwhile on the La Florida side of the bridge, Emily and Louisa were attaching their half of the crossbeams to suspenders and staging them for installation later in the day.

Lilly providing QC on the lumber.

Lilly providing QC on the lumber.

Back on the La Conga side, Karen, Lilly and Robert got to work staging the lumber for the decking. The ideal width of each board was 40 mm, however with it all cut onsite, there was some variance. Given the size of the lag screws onsite, the boards had to be thick enough to accommodate the screw securely. This team examined each board and sorted them by width so that when the decking is placed, there are no large gaps that could cause a tripping hazard. In total, 85 boards will be needed to complete the bridge decking.

After lunch, the suspension hoisting began in earnest on both sides of the Rio Trinidad. Tomas and Eric climbed the scaffolding on the La Florida side. They were supported by Karen and Luisa on the ground hoisting the boards up. Blake and Carlos represented team La Conga, supported by Haluk and Reece on the ground.

Team La Florida.

Team La Florida.

Which side would get there first?  With each team hanging 21 and 22 boards respectively, the process sped up as each side got their own system going. Team La Conga started timing their efforts with the average coming in around six minutes and the fastest at 4 minutes, 50 seconds. Since the La Conga side had the boards assembled and was able to get an earlier start, they finished first around 4 p.m. As the pull cable was slowly released (typically after 5 boards), the boards would push those in front of them further into the middle of the main cable.

“Today was an exercise in dexterity,” shared Eric. “I spent 12 hours up on 25-foot high scaffolding handing suspenders. Tomas and I had to hold each suspender in place with one hand, pull the pull wire to the correct marking with the other hand and then with that same hand clamp the rebar closed with two screws. Clamps were dropped. Markings were missed. Only the cool condensation of my iced beverage soothed the ache in my hand.”

BridgeThe team’s hard work thus far was becoming more visible, as a bridge was starting to take shape over what was previously a vast open space between La Conga and La Florida. Everyone was excited to see the connection forming between the two sides, and we were confident that the bridge would be finished on time.

 

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