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Small bridge ideas?

 
Will Holland
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My property is divided by this small drainage. It's a few feet deep and a few feet wide. It separates my house/ yard from almost the entirety of the rest of my property (5 acres). One long side of my property is bound by a state highway. On the other side of the highway, there is a ditch, a culvert goes under the roadway, and feeds this drainage, and then flows into a brook that bounds my property on the other side. I'd like to be able to drive my tractor over to the other side. Any good ideas on how to cross this thing?

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David Livingston
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Some questions
Does this ditch flood ?
Are you on stone or clay or ?
will you need planning permission ?
David
 
Will Holland
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David Livingston wrote:Some questions
Does this ditch flood ?
Are you on stone or clay or ?
will you need planning permission ?
David


on the side I'm standing on in the picture (house side) it's really really loamy and dark and beautiful. The other side is a bit soft in spots. I'm not even sure how to explain it.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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At my place, I dump boulders, cobbles, and gravel into places where I want to cross a small stream. And for a little bit downstream, enough to prevent scouring.

 
David Livingston
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I' m fond of these and being St Pats it is appropriate an Irish bridge
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_water_crossing

It's difficult to be more helpful without knowing the geology . Will the sides of the ditch collapse with the weight of the tractor?

David
 
Will Holland
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I think the sides won't collapse, but I haven't gotten close enough to find out.
 
Tyler Ludens
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David Livingston wrote:I' m fond of these and being St Pats it is appropriate an Irish bridge
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_water_crossing


Our neighbors had a low concrete bridge built over their seasonal creek. I can't imagine that it cost less than $10,000.

 
David Livingston
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Tyler
The term Irish Bridge is a poor joke as it's not really a bridge it's a type of ford made out of pipes some sort of filling . Can be quite simple and cheap fill the ditch with pipes and infill . .water goes through the pipes and the pipes and infil support the weight of the tractor Etc

David
 
Tyler Ludens
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That's what we have over our part of the creek - some culverts with roadbase over them. We're the cheap folks on the block.

 
John Weiland
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Could you find a photo of your tractor in Google Images and link to it? Just wanting to know the size and rough weight for what the bridge with have to support. Thanks.
 
Will Holland
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The tractor is a cub cadet 122 and it's about 800 lbs I think.
IMG_20151122_145213.jpg
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John Weiland
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Thanks,.....nice little guy! Sorry for the rinky-dink diagram below and I will post a photo tomorrow. The design has worked well on a number of ravines and depressions on the property. I used treated 2 X 8 lumber (4 pieces, 12 ft. length) about 18 inches apart that were bevel-cut to provide slope to the bridge for getting on and off with a vehicle. Used 2 X 6 (treated, 6 ft long) planks to cover and used deck screws to anchor each point of contact. Could not make PowerPoint give me a beveled joist in the perspective angle shown below, so the "on end" is provided to illustrate that concept. It's held up pretty well with a fair amount of rain, summer sun, and cold winters. Tractors of 1500 and 1800 lbs (with manure/gravel in the front loaders) have been over it several times, and 700 - 800 lb pigs have walked over it without punching through the wood. As a plus, it's light enough to raise the bridge from one end with a front loader on the tractor so that any build-up of silt/clay can be dredged out to increase the flow underneath. Crude and inexpensive, but functional and movable.
Bridge.JPG
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Will Holland
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Really nice, John! It looks like a good design. I will consider doing something like that
 
Dillon Nichols
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I interned on a farm with a year-round ditch perhaps twice that size. As far as I could tell the bridge over it was a few fairly substantial logs, dug in to be level on both sides with earth overtop and things growing in it. Sounds pretty sketchy, but it was solid as a rock. I drove over it several times in my ~4000lb van.

Obviously it would rot out eventually, and use of a rot resistant tree would be good... If I was building one, I'd not cover it in earth, but level the tops of the logs adequately to drive on them directly, or deck them over per John's diagram.

I particularly like that John's suggestion allows for lifting to clear out any debris/clogging. The log-bridge definitely could not be moved, but there was sufficient clearance to the water below that it wasn't a problem, and as a bonus the bridge would stay put even when the whole area flooded above it...
 
Michael Newby
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If you've got trees on the property that are large enough and you don't mind cutting them down then using logs is probably going to be your cheapest option. I'd probably just have two flat-topped logs spanning the ditch but like Dillon said, you could deck across them to make it a little easier to drive across.

I added this thread to a couple more forums to see if you might be able to get a few more ideas. Good luck, don't forget to take pictures of whatever you end up going with and post them here.
 
John Weiland
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Some pics....just as ugly as my drawings! : Excuse the mud,......still thawing and lots of animal traffic. I felt underneath the bridge since I couldn't recall if we had included any cross-bracing between the support joists, but I did not feel any. Nevertheless if you decide to try the design, it might not be a bad idea to put some cross members between the long joists to give the bridge added stability as shown in this photo: http://www.shinynewmachine.com/tutorials/detail/images/cross-bridging.gif
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Bridge2.JPG
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Bridge3.JPG
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Travis Johnson
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You cheapest and easiest option for that small of a water crossing and that size of a tractor would be a culvert. If you dislike plastic for ethical reasons you can substitute metal ones that will eventually decay in 30 years or so. They are about $200 for 20 feet of length, but are convenient because they are delivered by your local building supply company. Just be sure to size it the same size as the one the highway uses or you'll create a bottle neck with a freshet and flood your own land.

But the really cheap way of crossing it would be to build your own ford. Just taper the approaches to the water crossing so make the slope gentle, then form up approaches with 2x4's and make what is essentially concrete sloped ramps up each side, the lowest point being the center of the water crossing obviously. If you don't have a cement mixer you can rent or borrow one, and while the best cement would be one made out of gravel, just using the earth you dug out to taper the approaches would be good enough to work. They call it earthcrete. For the size you are looking for I would say (roughly) $75 in a few bags of cement and a weekend of time you could make your own ford.

Here is a bigger car version of one similar to what I am talking about.

 
Travis Johnson
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I was just thinking this morning, another cheap alternative might be to use the bundle of pipes method. If using plastic pipe does not bother you, you can buy 6 inch plastic pvc pipe at $10 per length and cut them in half. Buy five of them and you would end up with (10) 5 foot long pieces. Place the bell end uphill and arrange them into a bundle down into the ditch and then cover the top with soil. That would be wide enough for your garden tractor(or a walking path). At $55 bucks that is cheap and easy.

The only down side is you would have to clean out any slash, trash or anything else that accumulates as you would have a cluster of pipes and not a single bigger culvert, but for $55 bucks, it is cheap and easy.
 
Glenn Herbert
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If you have any amount of stone on your land, you could build a solid ford or causeway across the channel. There is one on my land put in by a farmer maybe a century ago across a drainage ditch which is the head end of a ravine. It is up to 3-4' deep and about 20' wide at the upstream side, and the loose rock lets water flow through in even the biggest rainstorms. (It also carries a road culvert outflow.)

If you don't have that much rock (or time ), a ford of at least 2-3 layers of rocks dug in so the top surface matches the downstream height, sides sloped for easy driving, should last a long time. As I see you have some slope to the channel, you can halt any incipient erosion by locating the crossing just downstream of a drop, and building the surface up smoothly on the upstream side. The causeway will serve to counter the scour you would get at the foot of a dam, stacking functions.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Glenn Herbert wrote:If you have any amount of stone on your land, you could build a solid ford or causeway across the channel.


Can you post a photo? I am thinking of installing such a thing in the creek and would like to see an example.

 
Glenn Herbert
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The upstream side isn't as deep as I remembered. (Probably not as deep as it was when I was a kid.)
IMG_1146-w600.jpg
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upstream of causeway
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downstream of causeway
 
Jay Angler
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We have a "winter creek" that looks similar to the opening picture in this thread. The former owners had put a large-ish culvert at the input side of the property that was still super soggy, and a totally inadequately sized metal tube near the outlet in a very wet area. Crossing this area in the winter was a pain and neither passage was in the direct route the humans would like to take.

We choose the large metal pipe solution and put it in the driest spot and the only thing I'd like to add to the discussion is that I choose a large flat rock to put at the inlet end in the creak bed and two large rocks on either side of the inlet and slightly smaller ones at the outlet similarly arranged. This has prevented undercutting (which we'd read could be an issue) and it means that when plants start to grow up around the inlet end, it's really easy to clean them out (this is a problem we've had with both the former owner's arrangements). I just used mulch to cover over the pipe and have had to recover it several times since, but at the time I didn't have a handy supply of dirt to do the job. I also added some rocks to the top at either end to provide a visual clue as to where the drop-off happens.

I like the idea of gradually ramping up to a simple large log bridge if you have plentiful large logs to do the job. Where we are, buying the necessary wood would have been even more expensive than the culvert pipe which was pricey enough.

J.
 
John Janssen
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I have ditches & creeks running all over my property that I need to cross fairly reg with my 85 horse tractor.

I am also quite frugal. Here are a few of my methods:

1. For any size vehicle - Go to your municipality/city/township public works dept and they will sell you "used" culverts the plastic ones are best as they last forever - if you have an aversion to plastic look at it this way - you are rescuing it from the landfill and giving it a second life and if the first buyer hadn't been so evil you wouldn't be in this situation. Installation simple. throw it into the ditch and pile some dirt around it. KISS Theory.

2. For quads, small tractors, etc... - Rescue a telephone pole (is impregnated with interesting stuff so they don't rot) cut in half. Railway ties are great for this. flop across ditch 3' apart. Break down some rescued pallets for crossers - try to get the good hardwood onces.

3. Bush bridge - cut down a bunch of trees, lay them side by side, drive on.

4. for large creek & full size vehicles, tractors, hay wagons etc... Buy an old 45' flatbed highway trailer (they are cheap and they deliver) remove axles (simple 4 pins) and front jacks (bring those away for scrap weight$$). Lay some railway ties down crossways to support the trailer on both side of the creek - this keeps the trailer out of the dirt so it doesn't rot and provides stability for the main beams. If the ties are in good shape they will outlast you, want them to last longer lay them in gravel for drainage. Hill some gravel on both ends of the trailer/bridge for ramp as bridge should be about 1' or so above surrounding ground. You can do the above with a railway car as well, just harder to get/transport in my area. Or a shipping container - nice covered bridge make sure to brace if removing both ends entirely


YMMV John




 
Timothy Markus
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If it's visible from public land, or if you think someone can easily find out about it, make sure you follow the regulations regarding water ways. It doesn't look like an issue, but you may be required to provide a route for aquatic life to pass.

If that's an issue, you've got several options to choose from. If it's not, I'd say that every option presented here will work. As a child of the 70's, I'd suggest building a ramp on each side and just jumping the creek like the Duke boys would've done. It may not be the best option, but it would be the most exiting.

Let us know what you do and post pics if you would.
 
eric koperek
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TO: Will Holland
FROM: Eric Koperek = erickoperek@gmail.com
SUBJECT: Small Bridges
DATE: PM 6:11 Tuesday 29 Mars 2016
TEXT:

1. In Africa, we would build a ford to cross a little stream like yours. Just dump lots of big rocks then level to make a smooth roadbed. Build your ford 3 times wider than necessary to protect from washouts.

2. If your stream flow is very large, consider using a culvert, as many others have recommended. Dump culvert in stream then cover with rip-rap = orange to grapefruit size stones. Note: You can make your own culvert by stacking rocks in the Neolithic manner = post and lintel system = like Stonehenge. Alternatively, lean 2 big rocks together to make a tee-pee = triangles make for strong engineering. Use the biggest rocks you can manage to build your culvert, then infill with whatever rocks you have. We build fords like this out in the bush where it is too expensive to haul manufactured culvert pipes. Culverts are necessary to protect bridges or fords from being washed out by seasonal floods. If you can't build or obtain a culvert, construct your ford with the biggest boulders you can move. Flood waters are very powerful and can easily wash away lesser stones. Translation: Build it right the first time and you will never have to do it again.

3. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING! Be very careful about government environmental regulations, especially if you have a permanent stream = wet year round. Be even more careful if there are native fish in the stream. There are 2 ways to play this: (1) Smile sweetly and ask politely for help. This usually works but may tie you up for 6 months or more with Government paperwork. (2) Don't tell anyone what you are doing and certainly do not admit that you did anything. This is how we do it in Africa. The alternative is paying bribes or waiting a year or more for official laying-on-of-hands.

4. If you have larger streams to cross, consider building a "Pipe Bridge": Lay 2 or 3 scrap I-Beams across the creek then weld 4 inch diameter scrap gas pipe horizontally across the I-Beams. Space the pipes 1 to 2 inches apart. Pipe bridges last forever and will stand the weight of dump trucks and other heavy equipment. Pipe bridges are standard engineering in developing countries or most any surface mining operation.

5. You can obtain many How-To publications on building fords in the outback. Search the Internet for Do-It-Yourself articles from international do-gooding agencies.

6. If you have a son, this would be a good educational project for him. Point him in the right direction then turn him loose.

Happy Engineering!

ERIC KOPEREK
 
Jeff Cope
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Try a living bridge--willows or some other fast-growing, wet soil-tolerant tree. Plant 2 or 4 on each side, angled toward the opposite side of the stream and tie them to bend them over as they grow. Pleach them together when they're horizontal enough, to form the footbridge and if you want, handrails. The bridge can be arched up in the middle for strength, and the branches can be used to form a frame for the path, the balustrade, and even the frame of a roof. You'll want something temporary as described by others while the bridge grows.
 
Andrew Schreiber
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A really simple thing to do is put in a large culvert (or maybe several smaller ones, and then backfill with rip-rap (small stones) and dirt. Giving it a gravel topping keeps the mud down.

armoring the up and downhill banks with rocks will prevent washing out and can be constructed to funnel the water thought the culvert.

You can make it as wide as you want so long as the culvert is pitched downhill to prevent sedimentation.

 
John Enebak
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The Da Vinci self supporting bridge is a fun bridge to build and can be buildt with light weight lumber:

http://www.leonardodavincisinventions.com/leonardo-da-vinci-models/leonardo-da-vincis-self-supporting-bridge/

Very simple:
 
chad duncan
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Looking at the size of your machine and the width of the creek, I would be tempted to lay two 8 foot 2X10 across it and go. If the boards flex more than you are comfortable with as you SLOWLY drive onto it the first time, double up on the 2X10's (screw or nail the doubled boards together to keep them from slipping across each other when wet). I have driven cars and trucks up onto car trailers with 2X10`s without breaking them. I am basing this on the width of your creek being less than 4 feet across (the pics look closer to 2 feet). If it actually is getting close to 4 feet across, try a 10 foot board instead, and move slowly the first time you try it. Even if the board cracks, you will still be on a perfect ramp to pull the machine back out. When you aren`t using it, you could pull the boards up and let them stay somewhere dry to lengthen their life expectancy.
 
chad Christopher
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I second the keep it simple, 2x10. But instead of doubling up flat, screw or nail a 2x4 on each side to create an I beam. It should also prevent any side to side tire slippage. drill some holes and spike it in place with rebar. if that lumber adds up to be expensive, look on the classifieds for used aluminum ramps. I have worked on scaffolding made from dimensional lumber, which held two burly men plus piles of bricks
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