Amidst the secluded landscapes of Rwanda’s Nyamagabe municipality, TYLin partnered with Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), ARUP, and residents to erect the Bishenge (Masuma) Bridge — a hybrid suspension bridge stretching across the Gasumo River. For TYLin’s engineers, seasoned in daily structural designs, this project presented a unique opportunity to delve into construction challenges firsthand while crafting on-the-spot solutions to bring this 223-foot-long structure to completion.
The local terrain, fluctuating water levels of the Gasumo River, and the desire to minimize costs and construction time inspired the hybrid suspension design. The concrete pedestal and steel towers ensure a user-friendly pathway while overcoming elevation differences. As with most B2P projects, nearly all construction materials were donated or locally sourced, emphasizing a commitment to sustainability and economic stimulation.
Despite a limited schedule and unforeseen challenges, the team built the bridge in nine working days. With few tools, fundamental techniques played a significant role in construction. Brute force and a synchronized effort accomplished the tower installation. The site topography, combined with the weight and length of the suspension cables, made cable installation one of the project’s most demanding aspects. Each cable was 400 feet long and weighed 1,100 pounds. The engineers, in collaboration with the B2P construction team, made several adjustments in the field to address discrepancies between the design drawings, sag calculations, and the dead load deflections. Accelerated bridge construction techniques and assembly-line methods addressed unexpected delays and expedited the swing assembly and deck installation.
TYLin representatives and community members on the local construction team established a strong rapport, using creative communication techniques to overcome the language barrier. In addition to connecting over challenges, there was bonding and cause for celebration with each construction milestone. The team basked in the reward of bridge completion with a traditional barbecue.
The Bishenge Bridge highlights the value of collaboration, innovation, and determination in bringing essential infrastructure to remote communities.
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