The Bridge Blog A dialog about our new bridge and these web pages
Overview. As a pointy-headed
university professor, my weekend project of bridge photography and
building these web pages generated many questions and introduced me
to just-in-time learning. I enjoy chasing my curiosity and
want to identify ways to encourage younger learners to also enjoy curiosity
chasing and learning.
Learning usually requires repetition while forgetting occurs when
I infrequently use information. Many young learners do not understand
the importance of repetition. Weekly visits to the bridge provided
the repetition necessary to detect changes in the bridge and
many questions and opportunities for learning. Over the course of the
bridge project, I had access to few experts for answering questions.
Rather than a liability, this became an asset and pushed me to improve
my search skills with Google. Soon, I found that answers
to questions encountered during my weekly photo shoots were often
only a Google-search away -
Restoring the Joy in Learning). Consequently Google + Internet became
dependable extensions of my memory.
It was July 21, 2004 when David Wertz from SCDOT provided me with my first
inside look at the bridge construction processes. The motivation came
from Bill Mankin at High Steel Structures in Lancaster Pa - who had been
exchanging email with me about which steel came from them and which steel
came from other vendors. About a week before I noted that some edge
girders were being lifted using cranes anchored in the river and wondered
about how the stability of the crane barge was adequate for the precision
placement of the edge girders.
The fog that day was thicker than pea soup and it was impossible to see
the erection process from the water. So we visited the deck of the
left main span. While waiting for the fog to clear we were invited to
look at the cable installation process inside the west pylon. This was
my first exposure to the French group of Freyssinet. Later, we visited
the top of the west tower and looking down I watched the Freyssinet
guy direct the strands of cables as they were fed from the anchorage
area see ( for the details).
He was wearing a Freyssinet t-shirt and with Google I found that Freyssinet
was a French company. I thought to myself, wow, what a great vantage
point to watch the final stages of le Tour de France - even if it is
3000 miles away.
Each year, my son-in-law, and economist that studies French and California
agriculture policies related to wine production, rents a flat in France and
Ellen and I provide babysitting duty. This year Trevor rented a flat about
6 - 8 blocks from the Arc de Triomphe, where the race would end with several
loops up the Champs Elysees. What an opportunity to close the loop
with Freyssinet that started the year before. We arrived in Paris on the
23rd and Sunday about 1pm we made our way to the Champs Elysees to watch
and maybe photograph the finish.
The crowd was wall to wall people - even 4 hours before the peloton arrived -
and I am impatient and what to do standing in place for 4 hours? I decided
that the crowd and the competition for photos was really worth documenting and
took this photo - just to show all the cameras (count them if you can). I
was about 3 rows back - and the only way I could take an unobstructed photo
was to hold the camera high above my head, aim and click - blindly taking
photos of whatever my camera was pointed toward.
After the finish, Trevor and I returned home downloaded our photos and
discovered we caught Lance Armstrong and his Discovery team on their first
the Champs Elysees. For the story of our Paris holiday and photos
of the Tour de France
our Paris flat, dinners on our terrace and views of many
The adventure from July 21 2004 and my introduction to Freyssinet to July 24,
2005 and the finish of le Tour de France cannot be described.
For this adventure, I thank Trevor, of
course, Marvin Tallent, an avid cyclist who works for Flatiron and
was in charge of QA and QC for the bridge and was my guide for many
constructions issues, and finally
Oliver Forget and his colleagues at Freyssinet who shared with me an inside
look at stay cable installation and testing.