Bridge Project

In the six months up to EWB-UMCP’s assessment trip in January 2015, Compone’s health clinic recorded eight accidents involving vehicles and pedestrian and within the town’s jurisdiction. These occurrences ranged in severity from heavy bruising to the death of the pedestrian. It was also noted that accidents had a wide range for the age of the pedestrians involved with those injured being anywhere from 9 to 65 years old. This illustrates that the road conditions are significant factors to the high rate of accidents and not just a lack of road safety etiquette from children. The clinic did not have records of accidents before the six month period. However, visible signs of incidents are evident with the appearance of crosses, marking the site where deadly accidents occurred, lining the highway. The report provided by the clinic also did not include accidents involving livestock. Any livestock injured, maimed, or killed can have a significant effect on a farmer and his family. Cattle especially are valuable assets for families as many in the village are invested in dairy farming.

The majority of these reported incidents occurred along the 3S Highway that goes through the middle of Compone. It lies in front of many of the main buildings of Compone including the convenient store, town hall, and school. The traffic through the town often exceeds the speed limit of 35 kph. Heavy traffic such as large semi-trucks and buses also pass through town as the highway serves as a main artery for the transportation of goods and tourists across Peru. Cars and trucks alike will pass each other on the two lane road when the opportunity presents itself. Dim lighting, especially at the dawn and dusk hours, has also led to accidents from the poor visibility given to drivers. The road has no sidewalk. Rather, a narrow outlay of gravel is used as a walkway by the villagers to walk alongside the highway. Farmers will use the shoulder to walk their cattle to pasture while school children will use it on their way to school or visit a friend’s house.

EWB Response

Community leaders and respected community members alike expressed a concern at their community’s safety and the current situation of the 3S highway. EWB-UMCP approached the problem initially with the suggestion of speed reducing features such as speed bumps. This was eliminated as a possibility once it was realized that Peru’s federal highway administration controlled the road. They proved to be difficult to reach and talk to while a temporary road closure and improvement would be extremely difficult to coordinate with the administration, let alone have it approved. The placement of lighting to increase visibility in the early hours of the morning and late hours of the evening was suggested. However, it became apparent that accidents were also occurring during the day and the community could install the technology themselves if need be.

Finally, one trusted community member suggested a bridge be constructed over a stream that forced people to use a highway crossing. The stream and its current highway crossing are near the center of town, thus having them see a good number of foot traffic every day. Villagers often use the highway crossing to cross the stream to avoid going down its steep banks and through the foot high stream. However, once every four or five years during the rainy season, the stream will over flood its banks and leave foot traffic with no option but to use the highway crossing. The assessment team and community leaders realized this to be a choke point that led people to walk on the road. EWB-UMCP proceeded to collect data on the stream dimensions while plans were also discussed to make the bridge the centerpiece of a new slow speed residential road. This slow speed residential road would shift people, their livestock, and slower speed traffic driving within the town off the highway and on to a separate roadway. The data collection found the 5 meter wide and 1.2 meter deep stream valley to be crossable. The banks also had the correct soil properties to bear the load of such a bridge. Carpenters, masons, and other skilled laborers were approached and pledged to help with the future construction of a bridge. In addition, local structural construction experts gave estimates for costs and available labor. Upon departure, the team had reached an agreement with the community’s leadership to continue EWB-UMCP’s partnership with Compone in constructing the bridge.

Moving Forward

The team spent most of the fall 2016 and the spring 2017 semester completing the final
design, having completed the alternatives analysis report in spring 2016. The UMCP chapter of
Public Health Without Borders and an engineer from EWB San Diego Professional Chapter, who
traveled to the community in January 2017 and March 2017, respectively, helped with
communicating with the community, monitoring previous projects, and conducting lab soil testing.

In August 2017, the team traveled to the community and completed the construction of
both abutments, the soil backfills, and the placement of rip rap. Due to the difficulty of
construction during the wet season, the team will not return until June 2018 to complete the
construction of the slab and ultimately finish construction of the project.
After implementation in June 2018 the team will monitor the project for six months to
ensure it functions well and is sustainable. One monitoring trip will be made, which will include
looking for exposed rebar, inspecting for cracks in the cement, making sure the foundation is
intact and not sinking, and looking for any other possible signs of failure. The team will then
reduce in size and close out by the end of 2018, when EWB-UMCP’s partnership with Compone
will end.