Building a Bridge

There is a bridge over the Pan-American Highway here, and we have enjoyed watching the process from breaking ground to the traffic now driving over the new bridge. It has been fascinating!

July 2013, big equipment showed up on either side of the highway.

Supports were built on the pillars on either side of the highway, and then came the part I found most exciting! There is a large space up the road where they built huge beams of rebar and cement. Then, these had to be trucked down to the construction site and put into place.

One by one the beams were put into place, and then large, flat pieces of cement were placed on top to span the spaces between the beams. These became the foundation for the surface of the road.

The pictures make it look like one stage quickly followed another but this work actually took months. It took a long time to put all the cement pieces in place for the road surface, build the walls along the sides, then finish and smooth everything. And, we were only looking from below and we didn’t see all of the details.

We enjoyed watching so much that this location was always a destination on our bike routes. The workers came to recognize us and always waved and greeted us, and I had some interesting conversations with some of them about the project. I usually asked when they would be finished and got an answer at least a month further out than the last time I asked. 😀 Work stopped for a while when there was a nation wide strike by construction workers but otherwise, there was always a lot of activity at the site and things steadily moved along.

The weeks go by, the work moves forward…  We drive over bridges every day without a thought to all the engineering, materials, and many many man hours that go into constructing them! We really came to admire the skill and dedication of these many workers.

The weeks roll by, the work continues, and things continue to take shape. After the dramatic part of putting the beams in place the rest of it seems to take so long, but it all has to be done and done right.

We went to Nicaragua in September. It looked so ready when we left that we were sure we would miss the opening. When we returned at the end of the month though, the taxi driver told us that it had just opened that day! We had such a great time driving over the bridge for the first time. How exciting after watching the construction for so many months.

The next day I am on my bike, I ride down there and sure enough, the traffic is driving OVER the bridge!!

The next day I am on my bike, I ride down there and sure enough, the traffic is driving OVER the bridge!!

I think the bridge has really helped the traffic flow on the Pan-American highway which has always been extremely congested in this area. Now, people can come and go from the road down from Boquete towards downtown without ever having to go on the highway. The on and off ramps remain unchanged and I haven’t seen anyone working there for some time, but I’m sure they will get finished eventually. The important part is done though, and the bridge is in use.

It has been so exciting for me to watch this whole project from the start to the present. I can only imagine the satisfaction of the workers and they look at the bridge and remember the part they played in making it happen. We sure appreciate all their good work!

About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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8 Responses to Building a Bridge

  1. Anonymous says:

    This process is being repeated many times on the InterAmerican Highway from David to Santiago. The progress is slow but steady, and the results will be awesome!


    • I’ve seen that! It is something to see all the work that is going on. How do they find all the manpower for a job that big along with everything else that is under construction here? It is going to be wonderful when it is done, a great improvement. Thanks for stopping by my blog and taking the time to leave a comment 🙂


  2. Anonymous says:

    We love your posts! My husband and I are planning to move to David and it’s so great to read about everything going on. Thank you for sharing!!


  3. Neva Miller says:

    I know George will be interested in talking to you about the new construction, as he is a traffic engineer in Seattle! And that is precisely why he wants to retire early! See you in a few weeks! Neva


    • And I will be interested to talk about Seattle because that is where my daughter lives. If you want to see new construction around here, it’s everywhere you look. Just the manpower boggles my mind, how they keep it all going.


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