Long Travelled and Treasured
Since the French explorer Samuel de Champlain first set foot in Vermont in 1609, the region has held its reputation as a land of natural beauty and rugged landscapes. These features have been pondered on by luminaries such as Thoreau and Frost, and enjoyed by visitors from across the globe.
Vermont also features some of the best hiking in the country; it is crisscrossed by over 700 miles of trails and thousands of miles of paths and dirt roads. One of the state's most famous is known as The Long Trail. This aptly named route runs 273 miles from the Canadian border in Quebec to the Massachusetts border in North Adams, where it connects with The Appalachian Trail.
Hikers familiar with The Long Trail can attest to its ruggedness and spectacular vistas as it snakes its way north. It is also the oldest established hiking trail in the United States and was built and is maintained by Vermont’s Green Mountain Club. Construction of the trail began in 1910 and was completed in 1930; its trails and shelters are now maintained by an army of over 1000 volunteers.
Crossing the Winooski River
For over 100 years, the Winooski River crossing in Bolton has been an impingement to full completion of the trail. Crossing the river required the use of a ferry to allow passage from Mansfield to Camel’s Hump or a 3.5 mile road walk.
The idea of a footbridge has been in the works for many years; however, raising the funds needed for the 224 foot span would need contributions from a wide range of sources. Funding for the bridge was finally obtained in mid-2013, and a design was created by the renowned structural bridge engineers at the firm of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. of Ferrisburgh, VT.
Construction was then carried out by Kleinhans Construction & Welding of Lebanon, NH.
Proper Use of Cables in a Suspension Bridge
Since this is a suspension bridge, its strength and durability would rely mainly on cabling and cable assemblies. These included cable components for the trusses, the deck, and the cross braces that would support the pedestrian walkway and handrails.
One of the major concerns in a project such as this is the environment. The bridge location is just over 70 miles from the Canadian border, and Vermont winters have a well-earned reputation as being long and harsh, especially in the higher elevations.
What Kleinhans Construction needed in this project was a partner that had broad experience in the fabrication and installation of cable assemblies. For these reasons, they selected Lexco Cable of Illinois to provide all of the required cable and cable assemblies.
Lexco has over 30 years of experience designing and fabricated high strength cable assemblies for some very demanding industries. Their design expertise can be the difference between a good bridge and a great bridge, and their understanding of assembly and installation of structural elements makes the overall build process much easier.
After being contracted, the Lexco team performed a comprehensive review of the architectural drawings. In their study, they identified a number of clearance issues that would have impeded design functions of various support cable assemblies. Without altering the original design, they were able to develop alternatives that would not affect any aspect of the project.
During Lexco’s design process, they created individual engineering drawings for each of the numerous cable assemblies. Each assembly was unique and varied in length and diameter; in addition, each unit required a special turnbuckle.
Lexco’s manufacturing operation relies heavily on quality control; all components were checked for dimensional accuracy, and each assembly was load tested to ensure a long trouble free service life.
In a short time, Kleinhans Construction had all the parts and components that they required to quickly build a suspension bridge that would provide safe crossing of the Winooski River for thousands of hikers every year.
Lexco Cable specializes in providing services that go far beyond just fabricating parts; they work closely with customers to obtain a full understanding of specifications, design intent, and what is really expected of the finished product.