The 23-year-old wooden footbridge connecting the Discovery Center of Idaho and Julia Davis Park had become uneven in places and eroded in others, says Janine Boire, executive director of the center at 131 W. Myrtle St.
Families use the bridge to follow an astronomy exhibit, Ride to Pluto, from the center to its conclusion in Julia Davis, and to get to the center from extra parking spots in the park.
Come September, the bridge will see heavier use as crowds converge on the graphic Bodies Revealed exhibit. It will feature dissected and preserved human bodies and organs that show how the body works.
The bridge is a pivotal piece for making that exhibit work, she says.
So when students in the Boise State University Construction Management Association volunteered to redesign and rebuild most of the bridge in April, the timing couldnt have been better.
The students developed, designed, estimated, managed and built the bridge. They installed metal bands on the existing concrete columns and replaced the main support beams and connections. The deck, railing and stairs were replaced with composite lumber. Students injected epoxy where needed and painted. Finally, they sanded the bridge and sealed it with a soy-based wood sealer. Much of the original bridge was recycled. Construction took 20 days and more than 700 hours of the students volunteer labor.
I had no idea how much paperwork would be involved, says Guy Di Bartolo, 29, a junior who was the project manager. One of the biggest things I learned was logistics how to get from an idea to a finished product the most effective way.
Di Bartolo, of Meridian, says hes using those lessons during a summer internship at the construction site of a multimillion-dollar hospital in Oakland, Calif. They do the exact same types of things on a bigger scale, he says.
Two $5,000 grants from NASA provided most of the funds for the bridge work. Several local companies, including ESI Construction, Quality Tile and Roofing, Yanke Machine Shop, Idaho Sand and Gravel and McMillen Engineering and Construction donated material and expertise. Boise State engineering faculty provided engineering assistance and approval, says assistant professor Casey Cline.
Boire says the center plans to partner with Boise State and the Construction Management Association students on future projects.
It was a powerful learning experience for the students to see the actual management of how things really get done and how complex those partnerships are, she says.
Sandra Forester: 377-6464, Twitter: @IDS_Sandra