As many Katahdin Log Home customers know, the right piece of land can come with challenges, including the need to traverse creeks or wetlands. Of course, there are many steel structure options, but for pure compatibility with a beautiful log home, custom timber frame bridges are a beautiful addition to your property.
What Kind of Bridge is Needed?
If your land needs a bridge that can support traffic as well as add beauty and value to your property, then Bridge Builders USA is the bridge contractor for you. A vehicular bridge is built to the specific HS-20 standard and can be designed for higher load capacity if required. This standard is one that applies to highways, and will support cars, cement trucks, fire trucks and even the semi-tractor flatbed that delivers your Katahdin Cedar Log Home kit!
Where to Get Started
We spoke with Greg Solomon, president of Bridge Builders USA, about the process of commissioning a bridge. “We help people considering a parcel that may require bridgework develop a sense of what is possible,” Solomon said. “We are very good at designing and building the right timber bridge for the location.” To provide a good idea about the feasibility of a bridge before purchasing land, Solomon asks for information about the site, which may include soils, distance from bank to bank, topographical survey maps, photographs and other site information. He noted that it is important to measure “on top of the bank” not from embankment edge-to-edge to calculate an approximate span length. The company assists buyers in this process regularly, and can walk you through the process of assessing a site.
If the potential building site seems like a good candidate for a timber bridge, Solomon can draw up a preliminary design and estimate for review and approval. Once approved, Bridge Builders’ Project Coordinator (PC) will arrange for a site visit for final assessment prior to contract. He will cover potential bridge design, materials, treatment, grading, site access, bridge location and other aspects of your project. Using this information, the company will prepare a contract for design and installation for the timber bridge. Design service will include sealed engineered drawings and calculations for the bridge stamped by a registered Professional Engineer. These drawings can be used for any local approval/ permitting that may be required. At this point, the PC will begin procuring the materials to construct the bridge and schedule the arrival of the materials, equipment and construction crew on-site on the same day. In total, this pre-construction segment will take 2-4 months.
Once the PC has completed pre-construction, Bridge Builders will send one of their two self-contained crews to construct the bridge. Solomon said, “Our crews have been working with us for more than 15 years, and are truly artists and craftsmen of the bridge building trade.” The bridge is stick-built in the field using driven 12-inch butt piles in most cases. If concrete abutments are specified, the PC will work with a local concrete contractor to have those structures prepared in advance. Solomon emphasized that their crews are careful and safety-conscious, following full OSHA standards.
Straight Lumber Transformations
One feature that still awes Solomon is his crews’ ability to craft arches and curves from straight lumber. For a curve within the bridge structure, a length of 60 to 70 feet is needed to accommodate the arc. Some of the designs featured on the company’s website traverse broad expanses of wetlands, arch over water hazards on award-winning golf courses and provide access to some magnificent homes. If your land has a stream, wetlands or other body of water that needs to be traversed, you can get some great information from Solomon’s experience in building vehicular bridges that make a statement.