Saturday, November 18, 2023

Stockmal Bridge Successfully Replaced

The bridge over the stream on the Stockmal Trail was falling apart - literally falling apart.  Despite recent emergency patch repairs by Teresa Gallagher, this bridge was one fat butterfly landing on it while someone was walking their dog across it from collapsing into the brook.  It was in sad shape and needed to be replaced.

And today it was.  The rain forecast from yesterday looked like it was going to hold off, and it did, until we got about as far out in the woods as we could, and THEN it rained.  But we had our raincoats and muddled on.  We dropped off lumber and materials and wheeled or carried them in with a great group of volunteers and high school students (2 students - thanks Jason and Jevu) who hauled in the lumber along with Luis, Val, and Ellen.  


Here's the Trails Committee Proof-Loading the new bridge after construction.   Not only do we stand behind our work we also stand on top of it.  If it's safe enough for us it should be safe enough for the public.

Here we are setting up to remove the old bridge.  Note the recent patch boards in the far end.

The causeway had been extended by Teresa earlier in the week.  This was the approach across the floodplain to the bridge.

The old bridge was used as a bed to construct the new bridge.  Here is Mark working on the new stingers.

So, we glued, screwed, and bolted the 16 foot long beams together.  Mark is applying the construction adhesive.

Mike and Bill cut the spacing blocks for the bridge undercarriage.

The new bridge frame was assembled, and then shifted off to the side so we could move the existing bridge out of the way.  It was heavy so we tried to lighten the weight of the existing bridge by taking off some of the lumber.  Mike removed some deck boards from the existing bridge to lessen the weight when we moved it.  The bridge was pretty heavy due to the soggy boards.  Luckily, the existing bridge did no collapse into the stream when Mike removed the rotten deck boards, but Mike really tried.  Note that Val was standing close to one of the abutments, just in case everything went south in a hurry.

We got the old bridge dragged out of the way, put the new bridge back into place and started screwing 2x6 decking boards back into place.  Jevu and Jason helped Mike and Terry screw them in, along with Bill and Mark.  Everyone got a turn.  We had a great time lining up the boards, stripping driver bits, dropping things into the stream; in short, a real trail work party.  But we got it done.  And lowe and behold, the new bridge is much sturdier than the old bridge.

Mike and Luis reattached some boards to the old bridge section so it was safer to walk on.  There are a lot sticks and mud scattered in the muck.   We left the old bridge in the swamp temporarily for elevated footing during flooding.  We plan to replace it with a proper section on bog bridge in 2024, but this should hold for now. 

It was a good, if wet, work party.  Thanks to Jason, Jevu, Luis, Mark, Annie, Val, Ellen, Bill, Mike and  Terry. And Thank You to the Bennett and Stockmal families for hosting the trail on their property.

There was a lot of pre-planning and materials assembly by Mark, Ray, Ellen & Bill, but it all made things go smoother in the swamp on Saturday.  The sun came out and it wound up finishing as a nice Saturday Afternoon.  The Stockmal Bridge is replaced and we can check this one off the To Do List.

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