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Tales of Tahoe: Installing the Tahoe Bridge

Posted by Cassandra Smith on June 13, 2019

Lake Tahoe FRP Bridge project - finishedWe are excited to be wrapping up our Tahoe pedestrian bridge project saga after almost two years. The project is almost completed with plans to be open the 28th of June. Even though the installation process has proved to be a challenge, with persistence and effort the team has pulled through and constructed a special shared-use path.

I spoke with Josh Driver, our Facilities and Installation Manager, who gave me some insight about the installation process, which he witnessed firsthand. His job included scheduling multiple deliveries, leading CA's part of the onsite work, answering questions from the contractor during installation, and providing help when needed.

There was a great deal of initial work in  the installation process accomplished by the contractor (Granite Construction). First was cleaning and clearing out the surrounding area, to make adequate room for the bridges and ground paths. This included things like tree removal, brush clearing, grading and more. In fact, there was even a team that cleaned graffiti off some of the structures.

Throughout this process, city officials did not want to create a major inconvenience for visitors and local residents by closing the adjacent road for too long. As a result, they implemented a rule restricting installation to nighttime hours only. Officials also imposed restrictions on noise levels, in consideration of wildlife living in the area.

Lake Tahoe FRP bridge project - rocky terrainAs you might guess, the most challenging part of the installation process was navigating around the 11-miles of rocky and steep terrain. Even accessing the site was a challenge, because the only way to get there was down the winding, shared, two-lane road.

After clearing the area, and before any of the bridge spans were installed, the first step was to put the support piers in; where precision is a vital requirement.  

The project used multiple sizes and shapes of the bridges, and cranes inserted the bridge spans one by one. In addition to the multiple sections of the bridge, there were functional features that had to be implemented, including railings, drainage structures, landscaping, emergency pull offs, bike racks, and directories. All of these were designed and planned to accommodate the anticipated amount of people who would use the finished trail.

Lake Tahoe FRP Bridge project - snowy weatherThis project was unlike anything our team has done before because the installation process was longer than on our typical projects. It was anticipated the Tahoe bridge would take about three years, mainly due to working around the weather and seasons. The process started in the months before winter, then paused with the heavy snows, and resumed in the spring. Finally, it is almost finished and will open in a few weeks, with only a few last-minute touches and modifications to do.

There is an exciting potential of 8 more miles of bridge trail in the future.  With the light weight of the FRP bridge spans, the contractor determined that building/installing the bridges was cheaper than cutting out the hillside for a ledge for the ground trail.  And more environmentally friendly. Hard work pays off, and this was a unique and positive experience, resulting in one of the more scenic bridge and paths that the  CA team has participated in.

Read the Blog: 3 Reasons to Use FRP

Topics: trail bridges, lake tahoe

Cassandra Smith

AboutCassandra Smith

Cassandra Smith a fifth year at the University of Dayton, and is currently the Marketing intern at Composite Advantage. She is pursuing a double major in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing, as well as a degree in Graphic Design. She has had previous hands on sales experience and vast interaction with different customers. She also has designed Graphic Design related projects for several local clients.

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