This past summer, the University of Colorado Boulder chapter of Bridges to Prosperity built a 79-meter pedestrian footbridge in Ichoca, Bolivia. The bridge will allow people to cross the Chungara River and leave the city, as well as let those from surrounding communities gain access to the tiendas and markets in town.
The President of CU Boulder’s chapter of Bridges to Prosperity, Garrett Sprouse, said the CU team chose Bolivia due to it’s high need for pedestrian footbridges. The team, made up of six CU students, spent five to six days a week working along side Ichoca community members to complete the bridge construction.
“We taught them how to build their own bridges; the design and fundamentals,” Sprouse said. “And they teach us easier construction techniques.”
It was nice having the locals look at you as not only a peer, but as an engineer as well, Sprouse said. It took the CU team and local volunteers seven weeks to build the bridge from start to finish.
“We planned on it taking longer, but we finished on time, even a bit earlier I’d say,” Sprouse said.
The CU team was able to finish quickly and efficiently despite working with new construction materials. Instead of traditional wood cross beams, the CU team used metal cross beams, so the bridge will be stronger and there will be no weathering effects, allowing the bridge to last longer, Sprouse said.
“This is something that no one in Bridges to Prosperity has ever done before,” Sprouse said proudly.
The next project will take place in the summer of 2015 in Eastern Bolivia. Sprouse said the CU Boulder chapter of Bridges to Prosperity hopes to be able to get to a point where they can do two projects a year, instead of just one. “That’s our goal,” Sprouse said.
Just this month, Bridges to Prosperity honored Sprouse with the 2014 Bridge Builder of the Year Award, which recognizes exceptional leadership qualities and an immense focus on safety during the completion of a challenging bridge project.