A team of ten volunteers from Louis Berger and American Bridge Company partnered with Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) to build a pedestrian footbridge in the Veraguas province of Panama. The bridge will serve the residents of Los Cruces, El Palmarito, La Gorda and other surrounding communities.
Each year, two to three residents lose their life attempting to cross the Santa Maria River, which is impassable approximately 90 days out of the year. The new 290-foot (88-meter) suspension bridge will provide the community with year-round safe access to markets, schools and medical facilities, and it is one of B2P’s longest bridges in Panama.
“This project was a life-changing experience for all involved. Louis Berger’s five-person team arrived with very diverse backgrounds which don’t typically involve construction projects. Yet each person fully contributed to the bridge’s construction by performing such diverse tasks as erecting scaffolding to bending rebar to installing the decking. It was also amazing to work alongside the community that will directly benefit from this bridge,” said Stuart Rankin, senior associate with Louis Berger’s long-span bridge practice and B2P team project manager.
The project was made possible with a $30,000 grant from the Berger Charitable Foundation. “We are proud to be partnering with Bridges to Prosperity and American Bridge to construct this important link, and it is one more example of delivering on our commitment to provide Solutions for a better world. It’s also a great way to commemorate the combined legacies of Dr. Louis Berger, the company’s founder, and his son Fred Berger, who helped fund the Foundation through a bequest,” said Tom Lewis, Louis Berger U.S. division president and Foundation director.
Dr. Louis Berger stated in an interview over 50 years ago, “The new role of the engineer is to help solve the big social problems that confront society. I am not interested in building a bridge just because someone says one is needed. I want to know if it is needed, and why, and where is the best place to put it. I want to know how the building of that bridge will change the lives of the people who use it.”
Participating in this project enabled our volunteers to see first-hand how the bridge will change the lives of the people who use it. The bridge is expected to be used regularly by approximately 120 community members, including 35 school aged children. Up to 500 people are expected to use the bridge occasionally or to indirectly benefit from its use.