In DuPont State Recreational Forest (DSRF), traveling a very popular trail between Hooker Falls and Triple and High Falls required hikers to either ford the several foot deep, fast flowing Little River or to climb stairs and cross a very busy road — over guard rails on both sides — that served as the main access to a large portion of the park. Due to the volume of traffic on the roadway, this route was becoming increasingly unsafe for the hikers. Furthermore, horseback riders' only option was to ford the Little River, presenting a safety concern due to slick rocks and a swift current. As a solution, DSRF staff identified a location in the immediate vicinity of the existing ford that would be suitable for a bridge to serve both hikers and horseback riders.
Through an accelerated procurement process by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), a 120' x 10' Keystone®-style, Continental® pedestrian truss bridge was selected as the best solution. Placement of the bridge across the river required completion of a revised hydraulic study and review by both NCDOT and North Carolina Floodplain Mapping Program (NCFMP). This process alone often requires more time than the total design and construction time allotted for this entire project. Since the project was considered a very high priority by the Secretary of Agriculture, with emphasis placed on completing the bridge in time for the grand opening celebration of the new visitor's center, all parties involved agreed to an expedited review in an effort to meet the Secretary's timeline.
On-site construction included trail modifications to connect the existing trails to the bridge, sediment and erosion control measures as well as crane access for installation of the bridge. The prefabricated truss bridge was placed on vertical concrete abutments, resulting in a minor increase in base flood elevations immediately upstream of the bridge. This was deemed acceptable because all affected property was part of DSRF and no structures were impacted. The increase in base flood elevation required a Certified Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) upon completion of the project.
"Contech Engineered Solutions fabricated and delivered the bridge on time and within budget," stated James Voso, Principal with Mattern & Craig Engineers. "This arrangement worked well and the bridge was available for delivery to the site once the contractor had completed the abutments. The bridge was set in late June, remaining site work completed, and as required, the bridge opened on the same day as the new visitor center. The project was a complete success and the new pedestrian crossing has eliminated a significant safety concern in this very popular and busy area of the park."