Historic Truss Bridge Installed Behind Notre Dame Arena

August 22, 2014

Pictures by Roger RIchard, John Higgins, Pete Johnson, Matt Godbout and Larry Gomes
Story by Larry Gomes

Our eighth trail work day was one of the most challenging that anyone could remember.  The goal: Move a 45' long 14' wide truss bridge from Stark to Berlin and then install it on abutments across the Dead River.  It took 4 excavators, a bucket loader, a large truck and trailer and a dozen volunteers but at the end of the day, the bridge was sitting safely over the river.

Loading the Bridge

The bridge was stored in a gravel pit owned by Mason Excavating.  the pit owner, Harley Mason supplied a large bucket loader and excavator that would be used to lift the bridge onto the trailer.  At 7:00am, the crew arrived consisting of Eric Johnson, John Higgins, Pete Johnson and Larry Gomes.  They installed heavy duty 1/2 inch chains on each corner of the bridge connected to a steel I-beam.  The team then rigged a lifting chain to the I-Beam.  Once the chains were fitted, they were attached to the loader and the excavator so the bridge could be lifted into the air and oaded onto the trailer.

The transport truck and trailer was donated by Chapman Steel and Demolition in Gorham, NH.  The crew consisted of Bud Chapman driving the transport truck and Matt Lentendre driving an escort truck.  Bud lined the flat bed trailer up with the bridge and the excavator and loader lifted it up high enough so the trailer could be backed under it.  The bridge was then lowered onto the trailer and strapped down for its ride to Berlin.  For safety reasons, all of the lifting chains and support beams were removed for the trip.

Unloading the Bridge

After a 12-mile ride to Berlin, the Berlin Police Department provided traffic control on the city streets and the bridge arrived safely at the Notre Dame Arena followed in by the rest of the loading crew.  Waiting behind the Arena were two excavators; one donated by Matt Godbout of MG Excavation and the other from the Berlin Water Works.  Also waiting at the Arena parking lot were several more volunteers including Shaun Roy, Pete Peare, Roger Richard, Mike Godbout and Dalton Binette.

After Chapman's truck pulled into position, the volunteers got the chains and steel beams reinstalled and the two excavators lifted the bridge while the truck pulled out from under it.  The two excavators then inched their way towards the river and dropped the center of the bridge on top of the abutment on the Arena side of the river.  MG Construction had a second excavator on the opposite side of the river that was then used to pull the bridge the rest of the way across the river.

Installing the Bridge

Once the bridge was resting on the both shores, Matt proceeded to build the abutment on the western shore using interlocking concrete blocks.  The bridge was then lifted onto the blocks and the crew found out that blocks were not quite square with the bridge.  So they lifted the bridge off, set it down on the river bank and repositioned the concrete blocks.  The bridge was then lifted back into place and this time it fit perfectly!  The crew marked where the concrete blocks had to be cut to allow the pads to sit flat and then the blocks were cut and concrete chipped out to create a flat surface.

The final step of the installation was putting back some of the rocks that were along the shoreline of the river and installing silt fencing to prevent any loose soil from washing into the river.

Here are some pictures taken on Friday preparing for the move:

Matt Godbout of MG Excavation dumps a truckload of stone to form a solid base for the bridge abutments on the west side of the river.


After the stone was raked out and brought to a rough elevation, Asst. Trail Master Larry Gomes used a compactor
supplied by MG Excavation to compact the stone into a solid surface.


To figure out where the west bridge abutments needed to be located, Matt and Larry used set of wire rope cables
attached to 4 plywood boards that represented the 4 steel pads on the bridge.  To figure out where the west
abutment needed to go, the eastern pads were fastened down on top of the east abutment and cables were pulled
tight and the location of the pads on the west side of the river were marked.  The little yellow device on top
of the center block is a laser level supplied by MG Excavation.


Matt Godbout uses a receiver that is capable of picking up the signal from the laser level across the river.  Using this signal
he was able to adjust the height of the abutment base on the west bank so it matched exactly to the height of the base on the east bank


This a a close up view of the laser leveler.  Also note that these cement blocks are "keyed" to keep them from moving.  The top keyway
sticking up 
on the outside blocks had to be cut away so the steel bridge pads would sit flat on the top of the block.


Matt uses his concrete saw to cut slots in the "key" sticking up from the blocks.  These pieces were then knocked out
with a hammer creating a flat area on the top of the block for the steel bridge pads.

Here are some pictures taken on Saturday of the bridge move:

Chains installed in each corner of the bridge go up to a steel I-Beam where another longer chain will be used to lift the bridge.

Harley Mason (blue shirt) of Mason Enterprises makes one last check before the bridge lift starts while volunteer Eric Johnson looks on.


After lifting the bridge and moving the cement blocks that it was sitting on off to the side, the bridge is finally ready for transport.


Matt Lentendre uses a two way radio to direct driver Bud Chapman under the bridge.

The steel lifting beams and chains have been removed and the bridge is strapped into place ready for a ride to its new home.

The big rig pulls out of the gravel pit in Stark heading for Berlin.


The bridge arrives safely at the Arena.


Mike Godbout steadies one of the steel beams that will be used to lift the bridge off the trailer.


With the chains and lifting beams installed, Larry is all smiles knowing the bridge is nearing the end of a several month long journey.


With the bridge hanging in the air over the truck, the Chapman crew members Matt Lentendre and Bud Chapman
pose for a quick picture with their family members that they brought along so they could see the old bridge being moved.


With the bridge lifted high in the air, the truck pulls out from under it so it can be set down.


The two excavators driven by Rick Mackenzie and Matt Godbout work their way slowly up the trail making sure to dip their booms
down below the overhanging wires.


With the bridge safely across the river, its time to start building the west abutment.  Roger guides the first block into place.


Matt sets down the final block with Mike and Roger guiding it into place while Larry looks on.

Its finally time to see if it fits!  The blocks on the west bank were off by a few inches so the crew decided to take the time
to reset them so they were perfect.

With the bridge in place, it was time for the welding crew from Berlin Spring to jump into action.  Shaun Roy uses a torch to
remove one of the angle iron braces he welded into place to keep the bridge from racking while Eric Johnson and Pete Peare wait
to carry the angle iron off the bridge when it has been cut loose.

Shaun welds a piece of heavy duty angle iron up against one of the cement blocks.  There are three of these angle irons on each
side of the bridge that will keep the tops of the cement blocks from tipping in towards the river if they are hit with frost in the winter.
The bottom of the blocks are keyed so they should not move even in the worst winter weather.

A view of the new bridge from an up river vantage point.


A view of the new bridge from the east (Arena) side of the trail.  Decking will be installed later on this fall and more fill
will be added to ramp up to the bridge.


After a long day, everyone loads up and gets ready to head home.

Our sincere thanks go out to all the volunteers and companies who donated time, equipment and expertise to this project.  Without each and every one of you, this project could not have been done!

Volunteer/Sponsor Name Company Contribution
Steve Binette Valley Creek Eatery, Berlin Grant money towards purchase of historic bridge.  Use of loader and backhoe. Transportation of cement blocks.
Matt Godbout MG Excavation, Berlin Two excavators and dump truck for site preparation and bridge installation, demo of old single-wide bridge.
Harley Mason Mason Enterprises Excavator and front end loader for setting bridge on blocks during restoration and loading for transport.
Bud Chapman/Matt Lentendre Chapman Steel and Demolition, Gorham Transportation of bridge from Stark to Berlin.
Rick MacKenzie Berlin Water Works Excavator for bridge installation and trucking of fill for bridge ramps.
Shaun Roy/Pete Peare Berlin Spring, Berlin Welding repairs to bridge, installation and removal of braces for transport, installation of abutment braces, demo of old single-wide bridge.
Brian Ruel Pro Quip, Gorham Provided discounted sand blasting equipment and expertise.
  Sanel, Berlin Provided sand blasting media at their cost.
Serge Levielle S.L. Logging, Berlin Transportation of steel beams from old single-wide bridge.
Bryan MacDonald Trail Master, White Mt. Ridge Runners Provided utility trailer for hauling project supplies.
Bob Rodrigue President, White Mt. Ridge Runners Sandblasting and arrangements for Berlin Water Works excavator.
Dalton Binette Member, White Mt. Ridge Runners Sandblasting, transport of cement blocks, use of loader and backhoe, demo of old single-wide bridge.
George Falardeau Falardeau Construction Spray painting of bridge.
Mike Godbout Member, White Mt. Ridge Runners Assisted with installation of bridge abutments and bridge.
Eric Johnson Member, White Mt. Ridge Runners Assisted with loading, unloading and installation of bridge, demo of old single-wide bridge.
John Higgins Member, White Mt. Ridge Runners Assisted with loading, unloading and installation of bridge.
Roger Richard Member, White Mt. Ridge Runners Assisted with installation of bridge abutments and bridge, demo of old single-wide bridge.
Dave Lemiere Member, White Mt. Ridge Runners Assisted with installation of bridge abutments and bridge.
Carl Bull Member, White Mt. Ridge Runners Assisted with demolition of old single-wide bridge.
Joe Cote Member, White Mt. Ridge Runners Assisted with demolition of old single-wide bridge.
Richard Dagesse Member, White Mt. Ridge Runners Assisted with demolition of old single-wide bridge.
Kate Gomes Member, White Mt. Ridge Runners Assisted with laying out position of bridge abuttments.
Larry Gomes Asst. Trail Master, White Mt. Ridge Runners Project manager, sand blasting, painting, bridge installation and demo of old single-wide bridge.
To see pictures of the bridge restoration, click HERE.
To see some info the history of this bridge, click HERE.
To see a front page story about this bridge in The Berlin Reporter, click HERE.


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