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OT: Bridge building resources

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11-12-2002 09:59:34

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Hope it is OK to post this type of "OT". I am investigating the process of building a bridge over a creek. I would like to know if anyone has any ideas or suggestions for information on building a bridge. We have a creek that is pretty deep, but the water is usually real low. We can usually cross it on the 4 wheeler or on foot with no problem. But it would be nice to be able to get the tractor across sometimes. We have a walking bridge made out flat iron bars, small beams & angle iron. It has been there for years, but I would NEVER try riding over it. I am looking for information on resources for designs and suggested materials.
It would need to be about 25' feet long. Creek bottom is about 8'-10' down. Probably no job for an amateur.
Thanks to all!

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Rich, NJ

11-13-2002 08:04:24

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 Re: OT: Bridge building resources in reply to KenB-2N, 11-12-2002 09:59:34  
This brings back a lot of memories. Back in the late 50s, the old bridge on the family farm was getting shaky. The span was over the upper Pleasant Run, a feeder to the Raritan river, in Hunterdon Co. It was about what you are proposing in size, roughly twenty feet or so. First required that two abutments be built out of concrete and rock. We put an old farm wagon in the creek to keep our feet dry while working on it. We had aquired two 24' x 12" I beams from a burned school building and they were fitted into place, leveled and concreted into place. Then the Bridge was decked with 3" oak planks from a local sawmill. A six inch high wooden curb was put on either side. Yes, we hand drilled the flanges of the beams The bridge supported the two John Deeres and combines ETC, Oil trucks and auto traffic.It's still there and working. We did it in the summer when the creek was at it's lowest. A very successful project. Rich

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11-13-2002 07:54:53

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 Re: OT: Bridge building resources in reply to KenB-2N, 11-12-2002 09:59:34  
Also try bridgepros.com

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Odd you should mention Bridges...(ED-IL)

11-12-2002 12:10:41

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 Re: OT: Bridge building resources in reply to KenB-2N, 11-12-2002 09:59:34  
Just got this month's issue of "Antique Power" and look what is inside....

third party image

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site access? bj/8n/mt

11-12-2002 11:25:56

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 Re: OT: Bridge building resources in reply to KenB-2N, 11-12-2002 09:59:34  
I did what you propose over a creek about the size you are discussing. Actually across a river overflow channel so I needed to leave plenty of clearance to keep the bridge.

For me site access was a problem--wife wouldn't hear of taking out trees--so I pretty much had to build it there.

Traded for five utility poles. Built abutments out of railroad ties to get the stringers seven feet clear of the creek bed. Tied the abutments back into the banks with half ties and back filled them.

Left the poles full length and ran them wild into the bank beyond the abutments. Since there is only about two feet unsupported between the poles I used two by lumber for deck.

Two guys did it in about three days. Used the 8n to drag the poles out and haul out the ties. So far has lasted five years. Checked and it only deflected a quarter inch with an 8n with a loader in the center. Horses will do a lot more damage than an 8n if you have any crossing it.

Your mileage may vary

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Dell (WA)

11-12-2002 11:05:40

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 Re: OT: Bridge building resources in reply to KenB-2N, 11-12-2002 09:59:34  
Ken..... ....Out here, lotta farmers/ranchers buy a used scrapped railroad flatcar for 1 lane bridge, upto 90 ft. You know the kind that haul containers and piggyback truck trailers. Check your local little nickle or call RR..... ..Dell

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NCN in Tx

11-12-2002 11:01:49

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 Re: OT: Bridge building resources in reply to KenB-2N, 11-12-2002 09:59:34  

Sounds similar to a situation I have. Have some property on the other side of a creek just like yours that I can't get to with my 8N and implements. Had a dozer push a low water crossing but the banks are still too steep for the tractor and brush hog to negotiate.

I have been considering going to the rural electric company and buying used utility poles (50 cents a foot) and laying four of them across the creek and then plank them with pressure treated 2 x 8/10. Then, add some additional 2x over the poles and planks lenghtwise to match the tractor tire width. I believe that this would probably hold the weight of the tractor and brush hog without too much risk. Could always stiffen it by bolting 2 x 10 's to the poles (length wise)for some insurance.

I'd be curious to hear from some of the engineers on the board about this project.


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Steve (Magnolia, TX)

11-12-2002 10:58:15

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 Re: OT: Bridge building resources in reply to KenB-2N, 11-12-2002 09:59:34  
A good friend of mine is contemplating the same thing. The approaches that we're looking at are;
1. A 'scrap' 48' flatbed trailer. Pull it across the creek, then drop the running gear.
2. A 'scrap' railroad tanker car (actually just the tank, rather than the running gear). Cut the ends off the tank, viola, instant culvert.
3. 2 (at least) utility poles for a bridge 'structure'.

I like the idea of trusses (don't know WHY we didn't think of that, especially since my wife sells trusses, for a living)...

Keep us updated on what you use and how it works.
I, for one, am interested in how it works out.


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Gary R, (OH)

11-12-2002 17:33:43

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 Re: Re: OT: Bridge building resources in reply to Steve (Magnolia, TX), 11-12-2002 10:58:15  
I would advise against a culvert type. It's unbelievable how bad of a driftwood jam you will get (more watertight than a beaver dam) also they almost always wash out arround the sides. I thought about standing the culverts up on end two on each side of the creek. fill them with rock & concrete and leave a pipe or heavy all-threadsticking out the top to anchor your utility poles,I-beam or whatever to for your spanners. my .02

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11-12-2002 10:36:57

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 Re: OT: Bridge building resources in reply to KenB-2N, 11-12-2002 09:59:34  
Ken - first off, construction over creeks and rivers can sometimes land you in trouble on a local and federal level. Our firm designed a pond for a client and one month later we are still waiting for an Army Corps of Engineers approval.

Second, whatever you build will need maintenance. Bridges especially are subject to adverse environmental impact. So when you decide on construction, make sure maintenance is on your mind.

Third, if the creek bottom is 8-10 feet down, that means the water is sometimes 8-10 feet deep. Keep that in mind when positioning your bridge vertically.

Might I sugest you look into pre-manufactured corrugated steel bridge sections.

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Here is a picture of a product from Contech, a supplier we have had good luck with. Pictured is an alluminum box culvert. They assemble quickly and are modular to accomodate varrying roadway widths. We even had a client use several as a garage, since they can span over 25' with a clear height of over 10 feet.

Click the link below for more info.

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one way..........bg

11-12-2002 10:11:34

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 Re: OT: Bridge building resources in reply to KenB-2N, 11-12-2002 09:59:34  
...to approach it would be to go to your local truss-building plant and see if their computer will allow a configuration of wood floor trusses for the clear span you need with a dead load of surface boards and a live load enough for the tractor and load. A series of parallel trusses made of treated lumber might suffice. We used to build shorter bridges across creeks and deep ditches with old telephone poles covered with rough-cut creosoted 2 x 10's.

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Fast Ed Ohio

11-13-2002 22:59:56

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 Re: Re: OT: Bridge building resources in reply to one way..........bg, 11-12-2002 10:11:34  
I traveled a lot off road back to well sights for local Gas Co. This one place had old storage tanks turned on there side with top and bottoms cut out ( large culvert ) filled over with dirt and rocks worked great, I was never afraid to drive over them .

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