NSBA Volunteer Team Completes Footbridge in Panama

(Photo: Jonathan Hirschfeld Photography) 

A volunteer team facilitated by the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA) has completed a steel cable suspension bridge in the hamlet of Lura in Churuquita Grande, Coclé, Panama, as part of a collaborative effort with Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), a nonprofit organization that builds footbridges in isolated communities across the world.

The 10-person team, which included employees of Hirschfeld Industries and Utah Pacific Bridge Company (both AISC/NSBA members and AISC certified fabricators), and members of the bridge design and engineering community, constructed the 51-m (about 168 ft) bridge across the Lura River, replacing the existing bridge with more stable infrastructure. The group lived and worked with local denizens to accomplish this monumental task in under two weeks.

The low lying ground around the community is dry for much of the year but floods during the rainy season, making travel to neighboring areas difficult and dangerous. With the new, safer infrastructure, about 500 people will have better access to vital services including health care, jobs and markets, and nearly 200 children will have the opportunity to attend school through the rainy season.

Working as a team provided the group with a lasting cultural and team building experience. “The sense of accomplishment, giving, and community that our team experienced is something that can’t be recreated,” said Jeff Carlson, NSBA west regional director. “The two weeks we spent building the bridge formed bonds and relationships that will last a lifetime.”

Additional photos of the Lura project can be found on B2P’s facebook page at The project will also be featured in our July issue.