To Build a Pedestrian Bridge - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 Old 04-24-2013, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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To Build a Pedestrian Bridge

They lived in Ardsley, NY… which is a fairly well-to-do town less than an hour north of Manhattan.
Although this property, as it faced the road, was only 75 feet wide, it ran back almost 250 feet deep giving the owners quite a bit of land behind the house. The problem was that a little over half way back, a creek cut the property in two. The little ravine was 15 ft wide but fully 8 feet deep so getting to the rear section (behind the creek) was near impossible.
They needed a bridge… a pedestrian bridge which would allow easy access to the back section for lawn mowing, parties, ball throwing, etc.

This should have been a piece of cake. I'm a cabinetmaker and during those rare times when I'm asked to make something whose structural integrity must carry the weight of people (decks, stairs, etc), I always make it much stronger & more substantial than I think it requires because a) I like the look and b) the structure will pass any test later if it comes under scrutiny… but here comes the second problem….

This creek eventually winds its way down to the Hudson River… and because of that, the structure came under the jurisdiction of some major players. Attending a meeting with the town building department, I was told I'd have to 1) have an architect render plans based on my design that verified it's strength & permanence…. AND, I was also told, I need the permission of the 2) Department of Environmental Conservation and 3) the Army Corps of Engineers.

After two weeks of bureaucratic 'running in circles' on the phone, I was given the go ahead. I then found an architect for the blueprints (that I still work with to this day).

These two renderings represented my vision for the bridge. I wanted an arbor over the walkway to which they would introduce vines. As the costs began to escalate, the client established a ceiling to the budget and I simplified the bridge. After the town finally approved all my paperwork, we went to work.





The bridge's main component were two, 10"x 12" x 30 foot, solid beams of 'Parallam' (Weyerhaeuser product). I couldn't get any heavy machines behind the house (backhoe) and each of those beams required 4 men and a hand cart to move them from the street (where they were delivered by the truck) to the creek behind the house. As it was, we killed ourselves moving each beam the 150 foot distance.
There was no way to get them across the creek no matter how many men we might have used so I came up with a roller system like what (we assume) they used to move stones onto the pyramids. Upon the two huge footings, we spanned the gap using two 24 foot sections of 3" steel pipe across the creek, placed another 10 foot piece of pipe at 90 degrees on top of the two spans and used this 10' 'roller' to help us move (extend) each beam of 'Parallam' across the creek.

The following shots portray how we netted out. (For reference, my youngest son, Brian is almost 6'4" tall.)







Two years later, the client confided in me that the project turned out so well, he wishes he'd payed the extra cost & included the arbor above.
Damn… I would love to have built that original design.

If you like our work, you might wish to check out our gallery… www.hudsoncabinetmaking.com

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"Courage is knowing what not to fear"~Plato
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post #2 of 11 Old 04-24-2013, 05:39 PM
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Just curiously, what was the Corps of Engineers interest? I ask because I'm an Army Engineer officer and typically USACE doesn't get involved in things on private property unless it crosses some sort of inland navigable waterway, and I don't think that stream really qualifies as navigable. Just doesn't seem to me that the Corps would be overly concerned with a couple building a footbridge over a small tributary creek on private property.
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post #3 of 11 Old 04-24-2013, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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Just curiously, what was the Corps of Engineers interest? I ask because I'm an Army Engineer officer and typically USACE doesn't get involved in things on private property unless it crosses some sort of inland navigable waterway, and I don't think that stream really qualifies as navigable. Just doesn't seem to me that the Corps would be overly concerned with a couple building a footbridge over a small tributary creek on private property.
this is what the town's building department said... I would be expected to get clearance from them (Corps) as well / took me a while to get the right people on the phone and ascertain that I DIDN'T need their approval / citizens that had been elected to positions yet had no expertise (building dept) / next time I'll charge more for the time spent getting it approved / I don'y usually GC projects much less exterior construction / I don't mind doing something correctly, just hate dealing with those who have no idea what is really required

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post #4 of 11 Old 04-24-2013, 06:37 PM
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Nice job. I'm surprised the EPA wasn't all over you for the piers at the water's edge.
One hears all manner of horror stories about people building docks or clearing beaches on private ponds and lake fronts when the EPA discovers them.

Hey~!!! It's a hobby~!! It's not supposed to make sense.
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post #5 of 11 Old 04-24-2013, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Nice job. I'm surprised the EPA wasn't all over you for the piers at the water's edge.
One hears all manner of horror stories about people building docks or clearing beaches on private ponds and lake fronts when the EPA discovers them.
there were the cement core remains of footings that we established to be still sound... so we faced all with brick and built the structure

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post #6 of 11 Old 04-24-2013, 08:55 PM
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Looks great, certainly a well built and ascetically pleasing.

I'm a Civil Engineer (in highway and bridge design) and I used to work for NYSDOT, I'm not surprised you had to jump through hoops with DEC and ACOE, even though they didn't end up having any Jurisdiction. I am surprised it only took you two weeks to get the go ahead - I would have guessed 6 months from the experience I've had working with those particular organizations :-). A friend I worked with referred to it as the "Glacial pace and character building bureaucratic process of state agencies"

Looks like the carrying beams are engineered lumber? How many beams did you use?

Anyway, great concept and execution. Shame your client wouldn't spring for the arbor, but it's a beautiful structure even without it.
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post #7 of 11 Old 04-24-2013, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Russell Hudson View Post
this is what the town's building department said... I would be expected to get clearance from them (Corps) as well / took me a while to get the right people on the phone and ascertain that I DIDN'T need their approval / citizens that had been elected to positions yet had no expertise (building dept) / next time I'll charge more for the time spent getting it approved / I don'y usually GC projects much less exterior construction / I don't mind doing something correctly, just hate dealing with those who have no idea what is really required
Haha, seems like some folks who jumped to conclusions way too quickly about what needed to be done and immediately assumed worst case scenario. Like I said, USACE getting involved on private property didn't make much sense LOL!
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post #8 of 11 Old 04-24-2013, 10:17 PM Thread Starter
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Looks great, certainly a well built and ascetically pleasing.

I'm a Civil Engineer (in highway and bridge design) and I used to work for NYSDOT, I'm not surprised you had to jump through hoops with DEC and ACOE, even though they didn't end up having any Jurisdiction. I am surprised it only took you two weeks to get the go ahead - I would have guessed 6 months from the experience I've had working with those particular organizations :-). A friend I worked with referred to it as the "Glacial pace and character building bureaucratic process of state agencies"

Looks like the carrying beams are engineered lumber? How many beams did you use?

Anyway, great concept and execution. Shame your client wouldn't spring for the arbor, but it's a beautiful structure even without it.
like I said Parallam is a laminated, man made product of Weyerhaeuser / weighs a ton, expensive as hell / but 2 -10x12's was sufficient to hold as many people as could possibly fit on the walkway of the bridge / they sit on each footing with a single piece of rebar running vertically through a hole drilled for that purpose... in other words that stops them from shift laterally but they sit there of their own weight... they are not bolted down / I thought that was kind of cool / as a cabinetmaker, I don't usually get to build something so massive

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post #9 of 11 Old 04-25-2013, 10:22 PM
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Nice job for a cabinet worker. You out did yourself.

My only question is; you mentioned lawn mowing in your original post, how does the owner get a mower over the bridge?? Curious minds need to know.

My father was my inspiration for woodworking, wish he was still around for more advice. Luv ya Dad.
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post #10 of 11 Old 04-26-2013, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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Nice job for a cabinet worker. You out did yourself.

My only question is; you mentioned lawn mowing in your original post, how does the owner get a mower over the bridge?? Curious minds need to know.
this guy doesn't cut his own lawn so the 'lawn guy' will pick it up / beats the hell out of trying to drag it through the creek

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post #11 of 11 Old 04-26-2013, 12:21 AM
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Awesome work.

Tony B



Retired woodworker, amongst other things, Sold full time cruising boat and now full time cruising in RV. Currently in Somerville, Tx
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