Military families at Fort Huachuca, a U.S. Army installation outside Sierra Vista in southeastern Arizona that was established in 1877, sometimes got their tires wet at a low-water crossing at Huachuca Creek. Access to their neighborhood called Bonnie Blink, a Gaelic term for “beautiful view,” could be a challenge during monsoon storms, other high precipitation events, or during freezing temperatures.
Instead of calling in the cavalry, the Army turned to KE&G Construction, Inc., a heavy/civil construction company with offices in Tucson and Sierra Vista. The 49-year-old company handled the $800,000 project in three months. “The public was amazed at seeing the complete construction of a new bridge in such a short amount of time,” Justin Wilson, project manager, says. The bridge officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 21.
Wilson explains that KE&G removed the concrete ford through the stream bed and replaced it with a bridge over the stream bed that can handle all the water produced by a 100-year flood event. "This will allow a second access to the housing area that is fully accessible during a large storm event,” he says.
There were no subcontractors on the job, as KE&G self-performed the entire project. “Contech did supply the prefabricated steel girder bridge spanning the 55-foot gap,” John Drake, general superintendent, says. The bridge was assembled at KE&G and shipped to the site and assembled. The company also paved on both sides of the bridge for all-weather access.
According to Drake, the toughest aspect of the project was forming and installing the large abutments to support the bridge. "This was challenging because we could not get any large equipment to assist except for the narrow area in between the two abutments," he says.
The weather sometimes made progress difficult. Drake says that the area received almost 10 inches of snow during one week. But the project, nestled against the scenic Huachuca Mountains, which reach a height of 9,466 feet at Miller Peak, also had its fringe benefits. “We had a large group of wild turkeys, javelina, and deer that would visit the project daily,” he says.
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This article originally appeared in the bimonthly Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, Jul/Aug 2021 issue, Vol. 10, No. 4.