A Bridge Over Muddy Waters:
Walking BG’s New Trail Addition
BY Linda Dove
The Gadsden GAB is a monthly publication that’s written by BG residents, for BG residents. Every two weeks, we’ll feature an article from the GAB on the Bishop Gadsden website. To read more, you can read the entire March edition here.
With sunny, warm spring days approaching, it is time to get outside and enjoy the natural walkways and trails that help make Bishop Gadsden such a great place to live and work.
And there is something new for all the devoted – and newly recruited- trail walkers. The BG Trails Committee has been hard at work all through 2022 and into 2023 and the payoff is now here. It’s time for a tour of the recently combined North and Middle Trails, made even more walker-friendly with a new volunteer-built bridge to keep hikers high and dry.
First, a little background: Over the last seven years, a devoted group of Bishop Gadsden residents and staff have developed three cleared and level walking trails through the woods behind the Quay. The three trails are 1.2 miles long and are marked by helpful signs about trees and land use history. There’s even a supply of walking sticks at the beginning of the section.
Volunteer Scott Wallinger outlined the most recent project: “The trails were connected except for the North and Middle Trails. There was a muddy, watery swale between the two loops. Walkers had to use the power line to go from the North to the Middle Trail and it was busy with contractor equipment. Several years ago, we had begun searching for a way to connect the North and Middle Trails through the woods,” says Scott. “The best location was near the end of the North Trail. The distance through the wooded area was short, the ground was level, and the swale beside the Middle Trail was narrow. We needed a bridge over that boggy area so walkers would not need to wade through collected rainwater.”
To test the idea, a temporary walkway of wooden pallets was laid across the slough. Walkers liked staying in the wooded area without the need to walk in the power line and best of all, it was dry, even on wet days.
Scott and Norman Walsh and a team of volunteers met with Daniel Larrabee and Bishop Gadsden’s senior management who approved a safe walkway/bridge design that would be sturdy and meet insurance requirements.
This was no small undertaking. Here’s just part of the project, as outlined by Norman and Scott: To construct the walkway base, six 8-foot-long wooden frames were constructed on sawhorses in the parking lot next to the EVS building. Each was built with four 2 x 8-inch pine boards eight feet long, treated for ground contact, and connected at each end with a 4-foot-long board. EVS personnel helped with the lifting. Turf Tech personnel moved them to the trail site. Residents placed them on cement blocks, bolted them together, and topped them with Trex composite boards.
Insurance requirements mandated handrails on each side of the bridge. Trex strips on top of the railings improved appearance and provide walkers with a comfortable grip. The Trails Committee placed sand-clay soil between the North Trail and the beginning of the walkway to provide a firm walking surface identical to that of the North and Middle Trails.
While the volunteers were constructing the bridge, Bishop Gadsden staff was performing maintenance on the Mews-Grove Pond, and the dock that residents once used to launch model sailboats was removed, no longer needed as the BG Yacht Club had moved its activities to the Quay pond. EVS offered the dock to the Trails Committee. The 12-feet long, 4 feet wide dock was cut in half and provided a 6-foot ramp from ground level up to each end of the new bridge. Norman and Scott are quick to point out that the old dock was cut in half using a Sawzall saw plugged into Norman’s electric vehicle!
“This was such a team effort,” emphasizes Scott. “So many residents – I’m not going to try to list them all – contributed hours of time, special equipment, building supplies. EVS and Turf Tech were big helps. We all had a good time and now we are enjoying walking on our new trail connector.” Scott and members of the Trail Committee are happy to set up a narrated walk any day but visit any Saturday morning and some Committee members are usually on-site and ready to tell their story.
It’s a great tale.