West Virginia University’s Core Arboretum has a sturdy, new footbridge, thanks to some more metaphorical bridge building as collaboration among WVU colleges and programs made the new structure a reality.
The bridge is at the top of the Taylor Trail. To reach the bridge, travel from the Arboretum parking lot, turn left on the Guthrie Loop Trail, follow the trail downhill past a large dawn redwood and a large eastern white pine, and find the bridge spanning a deep gully just past several Catawba rhododendrons.
“The new structure replaces a 1960s bridge based on recycled telephone poles, one of them later reinforced with pressure-treated six-by-six timbers,” said Jon Weems, arboretum specialist with the Department of Biology in WVU’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. “The old bridge included creosoted and pressure-treated center support posts in contact with water. The new bridge corrects this environmentally unsound situation by eliminating the center support posts altogether.”
Shawn Grushecky of WVU’s Appalachian Hardwood Center designed the new bridge with input and help from the Department of Biology, WVU’s chapter of the Forest Products Society, and Greg Estep and Dave DeVallance, educators in the Division of Forestry and Natural Resources in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.
Grushecky constructed and disassembled the structural members of the new bridge in the wood shop in Percival Hall, then obtained the services of 60 Army ROTC cadets “at 6 a.m. on a December morning,” Weems notes under the supervision of Lt. Col. Daniel L. Rice to hand-carry the heavy, 28-foot-long timbers to the Arboretum, where Grushecky and Weems assembled and installed the bridge with help from DeVallance.
“The new bridge has already had a lot of use, and I’ve received many favorable comments from visitors,” Weems said.
The bridge obtains its solidity from a rigid, through-bolted framework of Parallam beams. Parallam is an engineered wood product made of wood veneer strips pressed and bonded together. In this case, aluminum sheeting covers the yellow-poplar Parallam, none of which is in contact with soil.
Boxes of pressure-treated wood sit atop the aluminum-clad Parallam, providing places of attachment for planking and railings. No screws or nails penetrate the aluminum. Exposed Parallam will receive a water sealant in 2013. The hope is that the new bridge will remain sturdy and sound for decades to come.
Funding for the project came from the Department of Biology, Appalachian Hardwood Center, and earnings of the Core Arboretum Endowment at the WVU Foundation.
CONTACT: David Welsh, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.