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West Virginia Bridges, Weekly Report, Nov 12-16, 2018

November 20, 2018

We are currently located in Moundsville, West Virginia for what was supposed to be our third and final week. This week Sam Miller from Harrisonburg, Virginia is our project director. Our cook Georgann Melby from Bixby, Oklahoma and her husband Kurt Melby, our track-hoe operator, will be here until the project closes in early December. Wendell Lantz from Paoli, Indiana, is our crew leader, track-hoe operator, and bridge building expert here at MDS WV Bridges. Our lone Canadian, Dan Driediger from Missinipe, Saskatchewan is the office manager and will be at the project until it closes early December.

During this past weekend, the long term volunteers along with Terry, a weekly volunteer who stayed for a few extra days, worked on our last bridge near Moundsville. Every step for building this last bridge has been hurdle after hurdle with delays on materials, unexpected problems, broken equipment, and looming deadlines. On Saturday, Wendell and Kurt worked together to remove a stump that would impede our progress. It took nearly a day for Kurt to shave the stump out of our way. Saturday afternoon we all gathered to start driving piles down to the bedrock. We couldn’t get our equipment to work and so our day ended as the sun began to set without having driven any piles. On Sunday, Georgann and Kurt went to church for us and took a day of rest. Meanwhile, the other volunteers went to the jobsite to drive the piles. We soon realized that we did not have enough pipes to do the job. On the west side of the creek we were driving the pipes down 38 feet, which was a record. After driving only 5 of the 16 pipes we ran out of pipes and time.

We welcomed ten young adults led by Frank and Lena Mae Hoover along with their driver from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. On Monday early in the morning, we were able to move our looming concrete pour to Wednesday. Sam Miller and a crew of nine others went to Mike Simms’ bridge to level out some mud, spread straw, and plant grass. The other three volunteers spent the day at the Little Grave Creek bridge determining how much pipe was needed for the rest of the project and drove as many pipes as we had into the ground. Kurt spent the afternoon taking a nine hour drive to pick up the pipes that were needed.

On Tuesday, the whole crew went to the Little Grave Creek bridge to drive the pipes into the ground and prepare the concrete forms with rebar for the upcoming pour. We were also expecting to receive the 60 foot bridge beams and metal pieces to begin welding together the guard rails. At 11 am, when the beams were supposed to arrive, we got a call that they weren’t coming until Thursday, but we pressured a change to Wednesday. On Tuesday night we had a meeting and decided that this would not be our last week in Moundsville. We decided that next week will be living out of a hotel and bed & breakfast in order to finish the bridge before we head back to Clendenin.

On Wednesday, it felt as though things were looking up. The steel beams for the bridge came and were unloaded, the guard rails pieces came and we began to weld them together, and the concrete came for the abutments. Of course, there were hurdles that had to be dealt with. None of the bolts came with the metal and so they needed to be ordered from a local supplier. Once back at the house, we learned that Kurt had an incident with his truck. His front tire dislodged a piece of the pavement which then shattered his rear tire along with brake lines. Thankfully Kurt was okay and we are able to get the parts to fix his truck.

On Thursday we were able to pick up the bolts from a local supplier and we began to work toward placing the beams on the abutments. The day was cut short due to the rainy weather becoming icy and cool. It was becoming no longer safe to continue working.

On Friday, we had to pack up and leave our residence by 11 AM as it is a rental property that has a booking for next week. It was also the day to set the beams for the bridge. It was probably our strangest day of the week because everything actually went according to plan. After the bridge beams were set, we bid farewell to the crew from Lancaster County. We also bid farewell to Wendell Lantz and Sam Miller. Both will be greatly missed for their knowledge and expertise in building bridges.

Reporting for MDS West Virginia Bridges,

Sam Miller and Dan Driediger