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Footbridge gives an isolated community access to health care, education and economic opportunities

Photo: B&T

​​​​Schoolchildren cross the recently completed Rio Abajo footbridge on opening day

Engineers from COWI North America's Buckland & Taylor completed together with Bridges to Prosperity a footbridge superstructure in just 8 construction days in Rio Abajo, Nicaragua​.​

The residents of Rio Abajo, Nicaragua welcomed a very important piece of infrastructure into their community this past month; a brand new pedestrian suspension bridge over the Rio Pueblo Nuevo, thanks to the bridge building team of engineers at COWI North America's Buckland & Taylor. The team has recently returned from their 2 week trip to this 3,000 person community where they partnered with non-profit organization Bridges to Prosperity and Kiewit's Bridge & Marine District to construct the bridge superstructure in just 8 days.

Building a stronger bridge

The original bridge was destroyed by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and since then, the community has been impaired by the lack of a proper river crossing and has had limited access to markets, secondary schools and health care services. When Bridges to Prosperity learned about the challenges the residents experienced daily, they partnered with Buckland & Taylor to construct a new footbridge.

Buckland & Taylor, a COWI company since 1998 and headquartered in North Vancouver Canada, began work on the Rio Abajo Footbridge in 2014. The 4 person engineer team of Don Bergman, Hendrik Westerink, Terrence Davies and Kali Dickerson played a prominent role in the successful completion of the project, including a design review of the structure and construction work. The Company also made a significant financial contribution to the project by sponsoring a portion of the required construction materials.


Celebration of the opening​

A bridge inauguration ceremony marked the official opening of the bridge and was well attended by local politicians and Rio Abajo residents. During the ceremony, Don Bergman, Buckland & Taylor's Vice President of Major Projects and Senior Project Director, remarked, "I've worked on many larger bridges around the world, but none have provided the sense of joy and satisfaction that the Rio Abajo bridge has". Bergman has worked on a number of large COWI projects, including his roles as Project Principal for the design and construction engineering of the John James Audubon Bridge in the US, Project Principal for the detailed design of the North Arm Bridge in Canada, and Project Principal for the detailed design and provision of construction engineering of the Golden Ears Bridge in Canada.

About the construction management

About Buckland & Taylor

Buckland & Taylor, a COWI company, provides specialized bridge engineering services worldwide.  Founded in 1972, the Company is recognized throughout North America and internationally as a leader in the design, evaluation, rehabilitation, seismic retrofit and construction engineering of bridges and special structures of all sizes and types.


About Bridges to Prosperity

Bridges to Prosperity is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing rural isolation by building footbridges over otherwise impassable rivers. Since 2001, Bridges to Prosperity has constructed more than 130 bridges in 18 countries. The bridges that are built are catalysts for poverty reduction, as they provide communities with safe access to education, healthcare and major markets

LAST UPDATED: 01.03.2017