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EEA 2013 - Nueva Providencia Pedestrian Bridge
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Engineering Excellence
Engineering Excellence Awards


Nueva Providencia Pedestrian Bridge

CH2M Hill Inc. and Engineers Without Borders USA — Marquette Chapter

Client: Community of Nueva Providencia
Category: Small Projects


During Hurricane Agatha in May 2010, the community of Nueva Providencia lost its only bridge across the  Rio Santa Teresa. The loss of the bridge isolated the community from the rest of the world during the  six-month rainy season. A project team was formed with the Marquette University Chapter of Engineers  Without Borders USA, CH2M Hill mentoring volunteers and a student design team led by CH2M Hill interns.

The project addressed many complex design issues along the way. It was pivotal to expedite the project  completion to ensure that the bridge was in place prior to the next rainy season. The community needed to  access health care, education and economic opportunities. They also needed a solution that could be  constructed simply using the locally available materials and methods. The bridge needed to not only  function, but be sustainable and not deplete precious resources from local communities.

To sustainably  construct the suspended cable bridge, tiers for the abutments were designed such that no horizontal forces needed to be resisted, which allowed the tiers to be constructed by river-rounded stone masonry and no   reinforcing steel. The anchor system used a concrete mass, which the cables wrapped around to eliminate complex connections. A locally available hardwood, bolidor, was used for the decking system, based upon  the communities experience with its resistance to decay. The designers also worked to minimize fasteners  and simplify other components of the bridge. The stabilization system was designed to provide connections between the stabilizing cable and bridge every 20 feet to reduce movement.

“This project used fundamental  engineering principals to fill a need with available resources which is the core of engineering design. The  innovation in design approach to accomplish the work makes it very unique,” remarked awards judge Terry  Bay, PE.

The Nueva Providencia Bridge reminds us of the value of infrastructure and the engineering  profession to improve our global society’s health, education and economy is demonstrated throughout the  project. As one community member said, “Our bridge is life and hope. Life for our families because they can now go to the hospital when they are sick. Hope because our children can now attend schools with the promise of a better future.”



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