ND SEED formed in partnership with the non-profit
organization Bridges to Prosperity (B2P). According to
their mission statement, "Bridges to Prosperity is a
volunteer based charity that seeks to empower
poor African, Asian, and South American rural communities
through footbridge building, thereby advancing personal
responsibility, community public works, economic
prosperity, and access to schools, clinics, jobs, and
markets." B2P was a driving force in the preliminary
efforts by providing a contact person and by making ample
resources available through
In the spring of 2008, ND SEED established a support structure
within the University of Notre Dame of interested faculty
and administrators. While team members familiarized
themselves with potential designs, they also worked
to raise the necessary funds.
In October of 2008, ND SEED took its first of two trips to
Honduras. During this trip, the team met with the community
of Peña Blanca, performed a site survey, inquired about
local materials, and solicited help at two Honduran
universities. Check out the
media section for
photos from this trip!
Establishing a relationship with the community members of
Peña Blanca and collecting their input was one of the main
goals of this trip. Before arrival in Honduras, a meeting
was scheduled with the village of Peña Blanca. The people
present at the meeting consisted of approximately 15
members of the community, two Bridges to Prosperity
employees, and the ND SEED team. ND SEED quickly learned
that the community desires a safe crossing for both people
and livestock. The current bridge in Peña Blanca is
unstable and is supported with barbed wire, instead of
steel cables. The river also flows over it during parts
of the rainy season. During the meeting, the community
explained that a bridge is necessary for children walking
to school and for traveling to markets and other villages,
and that the site of the current bridge is the best crossing
location. There are approximately 60 people living in Peña
Blanca, and most of them cross the river everyday. The
community members are eager to work with ND SEED to build
themselves a proper footbridge.
ND SEED also met briefly with the mayor of La Campa, the
municipality where Peña Blanca is located. The mayor
agreed to hire some local labor for construction and was excited
about the project.
Performing a site survey allowed ND SEED to obtain the necessary
information to design the footbridge. After determining the
best location for abutments, the soil in those areas was
analyzed and classified. A survey by abney level was performed,
and a bridge profile was drawn with the survey data.
Additionally, ND SEED investigated the accessibility,
availability, and cost of materials. Most of the materials were available
in Gracias — a 30 minute drive from La Campa. San Pedro Sula was the closest city with the necessary steel cables, and bulldog
grips had to be ordered in the United States to ensure that they were drop-forged. These were brought by the team to Honduras during the construction stage.
The ND SEED team also traveled to San Pedro Sula and the capital
city of Tegucigalpa. Here, the team met with Civil Engineering
faculty from local Universities. Contacts were made at both the
Universidad de San Pedro Sula and Universidad Católica de
Honduras. Interested faculty spoke with their students about
the project and how they can become involved. Two local students later showed interest in the project and planned to help
out during construction.
ND SEED studied design and construction manuals
provided by Bridges to Prosperity. The team split into two smaller teams: a design team and a construction team. The design team (Patrick, Anna, and Jessica) focused on the design of the bridge, while the construction team (Rafael, Katie, and Sean) planned the construction processes and developed a construction schedule and budget. The design process was supervised by certified civil
engineers who are professors at Notre Dame. The final design
was subject to technical review and approved by
Bridges to Prosperity prior to construction.
The construction of the bridge was April 2009 &mdash June 2009. The foundation and towers were built under the leadership of Aaron Pettis, a B2P volunteer, prior to ND SEED's arrival in Honduras. ND SEED was responsible for the construction of the anchors, the cable placement, the approaches, and the decking. The bridge was built using as many local materials as possible so that it
will be able to be maintained by the community. View our construction photos here!
Project continuation is the driving force for the founding of ND SEED. ND
SEED hopes to establish themselves as a reputable presence first at the
University of Notre Dame and then nationwide.
University involvement with Bridges to Prosperity has been extending over the past year. Notre Dame hopes to be a role model for other schools to follow in community bridge building, just as the University of Iowa's team inspired ND SEED. Additionally, a new team has formed at Notre Dame which will construct a footbridge with B2P in 2010.
Bridges to Prosperity seeks to empower rural communities in developing
countries not by just building footbridges for them but by enabling them
to continue to build footbridges after B2P has left the country. They do
this by partnering with local organizations to train in the footbridge
technology while constructing several "classroom" bridges. A major goal that
ND SEED accomplished was to assist in this effort by teaching the community and
constructing the bridge with them. The community members of Peña Blanca informed ND SEED that they planned on taking what they learned with ND SEED along with the leftover cables and cable clamps to construct a smaller footbridge nearby their community.