A Bridge Built By CCORC
By Mark Holland
As of June 24, 2007 the Big Sandy Bridge is 100% Complete. On June 9th and 10th a Black Hawk Helicopter from the Fresno Based Army National Guard Unit flew the three bridge segments into place. CCORC members Mike Bloom, Daniel Himes, John Marquez, Rick Clack, Lyle Powers, Jake Liles, Chris Duburg and I made up the volunteer portion of the crew that set the bridges down on their supports. In addition CCORC members Susan Holland, Marilyn Himes and Samantha Ottemoeller assisted with the final bolt down of the bridges and provided much needed support during the setting of the bridges.
It was a long and tiring weekend that was filled with a great sense of accomplishment. On Saturday we started our day at 6:30 AM and finished bolting down the first bridge segment and leaving the project site at 8:30 PM that evening. Then on Sunday we returned at 7:00 AM to set the next two segments. We finished bolting down the last segment and heading for home at 6:00 PM that evening. But before we left that evening, San Joaquin River Trail Council President Steve Haze provided the Champagne to toast the completion of the project. Steve has filmed most of the construction progress and spent both days capturing the event on film for the council.
The final work to complete the project was done the weekend of June 23rd & 24th. With the help of John Marquez, I was able to pour the concrete approach ramp at the West end of the bridge, complete the scour pad, secure the retaining wall cap blocks and construct the trench drain and drain pipe. This too ended up being another long and tiring weekend, on Saturday we left the project site at 9:00 PM after 13 long hours and then retuned on Sunday to finish pouring the concrete. It was my goal to have this project completed before the end of June so that myself and all of the other club members that have put so much into this project can focus on more important things such as riding mountain bikes.
The Big Sandy Bridge has been an eleven year adventure for CCORC; the following is an overview of the project and the events that have occurred:
1995 State Parks contracted with the CCC to construct the trail and a crossing over Big Sandy Creek. They constructed a causeway / weir type structure out of stone across Big Sandy.
March of 1995 the crossing was nearing completion when a 100 year storm event hit central California. The runoff from the storms was so great that a surge of water hit the rock and stone causeway destroying the crossing.
Spring 1995 Jim Peat, then District Superintendent of the San Joaquin District for the California Parks and Recreation, contacted Mark Holland with Central California Off-Road Cyclist (CCORC).
1996 CCORC members Mark Holland and Mike Bloom performed a number of site surveys and considered various ways and locations to span the Big Sandy.
January 1998 Mark Holland prepared and submitted a comprehensive proposal for the construction and installation of a prefabricated bridge over the Big Sandy Creek to the State Parks.
Fall of 1998 the State Parks received approval of funding through OES and FEMA to replace the damaged crossing with a prefabricated bridge.
June 19th & 20th, 2000 the bridges were delivered to a meadow at the end of Wellbarn Road and unloaded by CCORC members Mark Holland and Mike Bloom.
December 2001 a meeting attended by [State Parks, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and the following San Joaquin River Trail Council (SJRTC) member organizations (Sierra Foothill Conservancy, Sierra Club and CCORC)] was held to discuss the possibilities for funding.
2002 the Sierra Foothill Conservancy secured a grant in October for $45,000.00 from the BOR. Retained a structural engineer (Chapman Engineering of Visalia) and a geotechnical engineering firm (BSK Associates of Fresno) to start the design and engineering of the bridge supports.
2003 CCORC members Mark Holland and Chip Chapman performed additional site surveys and preliminary design perimeters were established. Plans for the two abutments and two bent supports were completed in May 2004.
July 2004 Construction documents were completed.
June 26th, 2004 (almost 4 years to the date from when the bridges arrived) an all volunteer work force started constructing the bridge supports.
April 2005, ten months after construction started crews completed the final construction activities required for the bridges to be installed.
November 2005 Mark Holland submitted the formal “Request for California Army National Guard Rotary Wing Operational Support Airlift”
July 2006 received the formal acceptance and approval for the helicopter airlift from the California Army National Guard
69 volunteers from 8 groups have contributed over 4,600 hours: CCORC, Back Country Horsemen, Fresno County Sportsmen’s Club, Sierra Foothill Conservancy, San Joaquin River Intertribal Heritage Educational Corporation, River Tree Volunteers, Sierra Club and Caltrans.
CCORC Members their families and friends have contributed over 3,400 hours to the construction of the Big Sandy Bridge over the past eleven years. It goes with out saying that it took everyone of the 69 volunteers and their contribution to this project for it to be completed. However, I would like to give special recognition to those who made up the core group of volunteers that worked weekend after weekend over the 10 month period in 2004 and 2005 when we were constructing the supports for the bridges. CCORC Members: Mike Bloom (406 hours), John Marquez (371 hours), Daniel Himes (334 hours), Rick Clack (236 hours), Lyle Powers (70 hours), Chip Chapman (58 hours). Sierra Foothill Conservancy: Steve Haze (229 hours). Fresno County Sportsmen’s Club: Patrick McGuinnes (183 hours) and Back Country Horsemen of California: Toby Horst (106 hours), Katy Horst (89 hours). This group including myself made up 80% of the total volunteer hours for the project.
I know this project has consumed a lot of our member’s time, and at times has distracted us from some of the other core issues and responsibilities of CCORC’s mission and I apologize for this. I just want to say thank you to CCORC and its members for the support they have given this project. I have really enjoyed working with everyone and have appreciated their dedication and enthusiasm. My promise to CCORC is that I will never ever take on another project of this magnitude and I will devote myself to the other priorities and undertakings of the club from this date forward.