First Two Bridges Completed on PT109

September 6, 2014

Pictures by John Higgins and Larry Gomes
Story by Larry Gomes

Our ninth trail work day was dedicated to rebuilding two bridges on PT109.  These bridges were decked 10 years ago using Hemlock decking and they had reached the end of their life.  The first bridge was 16' long and had wooden beams and the second bridge was 31' long with steel beams.

When we arrived, all of the new lumber was already sitting at the bridge sites which saved us a lot of time.  This wood was brought in by the "Silver Riders" who are a group of older club members that get together for a ride every week; in the winter on snowmobiles and in the summer on ATV's.  This group had worked for several hours on Friday to load the lumber onto trailers and bring it into the bridge sites.  Many thanks go out to Bob Rodrigue, Marcel Belanger, Ron LaRoche and Roger Pelletier for moving this wood.

Our crew of six people split up into two groups with John Higgins and Pete Johnson setting to work on the 31' bridge and Eric Johnson, Dave Lemeire, Bryan MacDonald and Larry Gomes working on the 16' bridge.  We thought the 16' bridge would be easier to dismantle but we were wrong.  Some of the decking was still solidly attached to the beams and it did not want to come apart.  Also most of the wood was waterlogged making it very heavy.  We finally decided to cut the decking into 5' long pieces to make it more manageable.  We used several of these 5' pieces to make temporary bridges over water bars coming into the site to keep the trailers from getting stuck in the bottom of the water bars.

Getting the wooden beams out proved to be a difficult job.  They were not only heavy, but nailed into the wing walls on either side of the bridge.  We ended up cutting them into pieces and using the winch on Eric's ATV to pull them out.  Finally with the old beams removed, we could begin the process of putting the new beams in.  Once the beams were in place, it only took a half an hour to install the 2" x 8" deck boards using gas powered nail guns.

Meanwhile John and Pete had been making steady progress on the larger bridge.  Once the beams were installed, Eric went over to give them a hand to finish removing the decking and start the installation of the stringers.  The rest of the crew joined them in time to help put the heavy 4" x 6" into place and to participate in nailing it down.  By 3:00pm, both bridges were done and the crew felt the first drops of rain from an approaching cold front.  They hustled to get the tools loaded up and as they were heading out of the woods, a moderate rain had started getting everyone wet.  But everyone was glad the rain had held off just long enough to finish the job.   Here are some pictures from Saturday:


Crew number one with Pete Johnson and John Higgins knock the railings down on the 31' bridge.


Crew number with Eric Johnson, Dave Lemeire, Bryan MacDonald and Larry Gomes takes the railings down off the 16' bridge.

Crew 1 removing decking from the 31' bridge.

To get the decking out, Pete and John cut the decking into 5' long pieces and then pried them up with a crow bar.


Bryan holds a piece of waterlogged decking from while Eric uses a long steel bar to remove some other decking. Even though
this bridge was the smaller of the two, it took almost as much time to tear it apart as the larger bridge..

Eric uses a portable saws-all to cut through the old bolts holding the stringers onto the steel beams on the 31' bridge.


Brian looks at one of the old wooden beams that musts be removed from the 16' bridge.  After it would not move with the winch on Eric's ATV,
 the crew had to cut the beam into pieces to get it out.

John and Eric work to install the new stringers on the 31' bridge.

Bryan MacDonald and Dave Lemeire survey the new beams installed for the 16' bridge.  Since this bridge had 2" thick decking, more beams
were needed to support the weight of the groomer. 


With the stringers installed on the 31' bridge, Pete nails in one of the two end boards and runs a string along one side to act
as a guide when the 4" x 6" decking is dropped onto the bridge.


Eric and John carry some of the 4" x 6" PT deck beams into place for the 31' bridge.  This bridge had a total of 68 deck boards to be installed.

Bryan finishes off the nailing on the 16' bridge.  Even though this deck was installed with nail guns, some did not go in all the way
requiring some hand nailing.


Everyone pitched in to help with the nailing of the 31' bridge.  The crew snapped lines along each beam and the each nail hole was
pre-drilled to make it easier for nailing.


The finished 16' bridge.

The finished 31' bridge.

Our sincere thanks go out to this crew for some great work.  We still have 3 more bridges to re-deck on this trail so we will be looking for help every Saturday until these bridges are done.
Watch the WMRR website for notices about up-coming trail work.


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