Crews install bridge on Devola Multi-Use Trail
MARIETTA — The next step — about a dozen steps, if you’re counting — toward completing the Devola Multi-Use Trail on the Broughton Nature and Wildlife Education Area was taken Thursday morning.
The East Bridge across the creek next to the parking area off Ohio 821 was completed, with help of a 225-ton crane and workers from Mustang Aerial Services and Doug Lowe Construction and Excavation. The bridge now offers a broad, smooth connection between the parking lot and the trail, with direct access to the disc golf course.
George Broughton, whose family donated the land for the education area and established the foundation that looks after its maintenance and development, said the bridge will make the area more accessible and improve the walking and cycling experience for everyone who uses the area.
The project replaced an old bridge, which was four feet wide and surfaced with wood planks, with three concrete precast slabs four feet wide, 28 feet long and a foot thick, carefully laid side by side. The bridge surface is now 12 feet wide and can be crossed in about a dozen strides for the average person.
Broughton said the project required coordination among several local firms, along with a stretch of dry weather, to come to completion.
After the old bridge was demolished, Doug Lowe Construction and Excavating built the bridge footings from designs by engineer Mike Johnson, including a green I-beam strut spanning the gap to hold the tops of the footings in position, Broughton said.
“We want this to last for generations,” he said.
On Thursday, the pre-cast concrete slabs, weighing 16,000 pounds each, were picked up by the giant crane and lowered slowly onto the piers as workers from Mark Mondo’s Mustang Aerial Services and Lowe made fine adjustments to bring them into precise position.
“This is nice for the community, a good place to walk and ride,” Lowe said. “I’ve been working for George for 10 or 15 years, I’ve seen this from the beginning.”
The next step to completing the bridge project will be to fill in the approaches for a smooth, gradual slope and add safety railings, Broughton said.
The bridge, in addition to allowing pedestrians and cyclists to go by one another, will create improved access for the disabled and bring the trail network into compliance with requirements of state funding leveraged by the Broughton Foundation to finance work on the 600-acre park.
The requirements included at least 10 feet of paved width throughout the network and restrictions to keep out motorized vehicle traffic, Broughton said.
Broughton’s vision for the area includes a variety of Eagle Scout projects along the trails, and he said the foundation will arrange for paving the main access parking lot in the spring, making it easier to access and improving the appearance on what is one of the main entry roads into Marietta.
Another phase of trail development is planned, but Broughton said the onset of winter has brought work to a stop for this year once the bridge is finished.
“We have plans to extend it, but for now we’re just trying to get this done,” he said.
The foundation, he said, has been able to the work on the park to date with the donated help of many local supporters.
“We’ve done it on a shoestring budget. It’s a big challenge, keeping it tidy and safe. It’s kind of an introduction to Marietta,” he said as traffic whizzed by on Ohio 821.
The network is made up of about 10 miles of interlaced hiking trails, both paved and unpaved, with one trail circling the perimeter of the area and several others undulating through it.
Broughton said his family decided after his father died to establish the area as parkland and created the foundation to administer it.
“We didn’t want it to become a housing development. The family decided we wanted to make it a park,” he said.