When we looked at the farmstead last October we could see that the bridge would need some work if we bought the place. We also thought that we had some time to get it done. Like maybe around early summer. But, with all the rain we've had since moving in the bridge has taken a turn for the worse.
I closed my eyes and said a prayer every time we drove over it.
With each rain, more earth washed away and more wood broke apart.
We had no idea how we would fix it or if we would find the materials necessary to fix it but we knew we needed to do something. And fast since the rainy season is upon us.
The only way to find out the extent of damage and decay was to just tear into it.
So, worked temporarily stopped on the kitchen while CountryBoy grabbed a pick and started tearing into the bridge.
Do you see the bridge leaning to the right?
It has dropped but we didn't notice it because there was about 12 inches of dirt and gravel on top of the wood.
That much dirt sitting on the wood only promoted quicker decay of the wood.
While CountryBoy was working on the bridge a neighbor stopped by and introduced himself. He said he helped put the bridge in back in the 70's. I'd say the bridge lasted a long time. And, had it been properly maintained it would probably still be OK today.
After a lot of physical labor, by both CountryBoy and his truck, we are down to one beam going across the creek.
In the photo below you can see that the rock wall had collapsed resulting in the uneven bridge. We are still deciding what to do with the rock wall. Restack and mortar the rocks? Use concrete blocks filled with concrete to make them solid? Or, who knows what?! The other side doesn't have any rocks that we can see; just a pile of dirt which isn't sufficient with all the rain we're having so we'll have to do something there as well.
I do know that we have to come up with a solution by Monday which is when a local company are delivering and setting four 16 foot steel I-beams. They cost an arm and a leg but are heavy duty, will support the propane gas truck and will last a really long time. We will fasten pressure-treated wood over the I-beams then call it a bridge (wink!). Before finding the steel beams, our other solution was putting four 6x6x16 pieces of pressure treated wood together since that was the largest boards we could find to make beams and since we couldn't find any 12x12 beams. I think the steel beams are the better solution and I'm glad we found them. Costly, but better.
Once we figure out what to do with the sidewalls we are going to try and move the remaining beam to the center just for added support between the I-beams. It is the best of the five. But, with just the two of us and a truck we're not exactly sure how we're going to accomplish that but I'm sure we'll come up with something.
Meanwhile, we are getting a work out every time we go to town since the truck is parked on the other side of the creek! I've put off going grocery shopping but I think I'm going to have to break down and go before the bridge is complete. I'll just use the wheelbarrow to get the heavy stuff up to the house, haha!
It rained today so bridge work was halted and work resumed in the kitchen. They are predicting rain again tomorrow so I may have a kitchen update for you soon!