Started as usual with a 6.30 breakfast aiming to leave around 7ish. On the way to site we were delayed while a lorry trapped in the mud was cleared. There really is quite a lot of mud here, everywhere! On arrival on site we had our usual safety briefings. We’ll now be working at height, placing deck plates, so this morning Tim and Eddie gave us a briefing on safety harnesses and working up in the air. The teams split as usual with some of the guys going to check the cable sag (great news, all looking good after the night in the rain) while the rest of us went off to prepare for the cradle launching in the afternoon.
Carrying the prefabricated crossbeams and nails was really difficult work, from the tool store to the bridge site, over muddy ground (did I mention the mud?). Luckily the locals are much tougher than us and handled this quite easily. The afternoon saw us start the process of attaching the suspenders over the cables and through the cross beams. The suspenders were then bent into place ready for launching.
By the time the we were ready for launch quite a crowd had gathered. No pressure then. With a lot of pulling on the guide ropes from one side we launched it into place, much to the crowd’s enjoyment and our relief. It was a cool process and great to see the bridge starting to take shape.
Days 7 & 8
Not much to write I’m afraid, it’s been hard, hard work. It’s now time to begin work on the deck itself, laying the pre-drilled longitudinal deck planks. This was quite a slow task to begin as we had to spend time working out the best way to do this, while remaining within tolerances to ensure the deck wouldn’t look too snaky when finished.
Away from the bridge itself work on the mesh fencing started which involved laying out timber kerbs, rolling out the mesh across this and nailing it into place. This is the first time B2P have used this prefabrication method and the fencing panels in 17.5m lengths will be launched onto the bridge by volunteers once completed.
This actually only day 6 of the construction but already we can see the fruits of our labour. Progress on the decking quickened, and inevitably the pace picked up as we started to get into a rhythm. After the morning break for coffee we had to stop work due to heavy rain, which might mean more mud. It’s something we’re having to get used to here, sudden and heavy downpours. We’re at the end of the rainy season so it’s pretty inevitable, and on the plus side it accounts for the lush green vegetation we see here. And the mud.
Meanwhile, the fencing team continued to make good progress, finishing sometime after lunch. Most of us agreed that this was the toughest task physically so far but having an audience of giggling local children was funny and made up for this.
At around 5 o’clock the decking was completed with the final boards being cut to length, after checks were made up on the deck. Working up on the deck was tough but very cool, with amazing views all around. And finally seeing the deck completed on time was a great moment for all of us!
Knowing that we’d hit a key milestone on time was reason to celebrate. According to Spas, the IABSE construction lead, we “partied like animals” which, after a six day week, meant a beer and bed by 22.00, Rock and roll!