Denver — More than 200 residents of the villages of La Conga and La Florida, Panama, now have a safe and efficient crossing that provides access to schools, health clinics, markets and jobs. The CH2M HILL Foundation and the not-for-profit organization Bridges to Prosperity partnered to build a 45-meter pedestrian suspension bridge over the Rio Trinidad connecting these two rural communities.
The resulting impact:
Bridges to Prosperity has found that building a footbridge leads to an 18 percent increase in women employed, a 24 percent increase in healthcare treatment and 12 percent more children enrolled in school. Within one week of the bridge inauguration, the woman who hosted the team during their stay in La Conga received a job offer from the local municipality.
“There is absolutely nothing easy about building a bridge that will last forever, but once it’s built you know you have contributed to a leaving a legacy,” said team member Robert Deshurley.
CH2M HILL construction manager Tomas Garcia said, “I have been designing bridges for more than 20 years, but this is the first project where I actually understand what a bridge really is.”
Funding for the La Conga Suspension Bridge was provided through a $50,000 CH2M HILL Foundation Grant. A team of 11 CH2M HILL Transportation Market employee volunteers from Anchorage, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Calgary, Toronto, Dubai, London and Sydney, traveled to La Conga, a community approximately one hour from Panama City, and built the bridge in just eight days. Read the team’s blog posts at www.ch2mhillblogs.com/foundation/category/blog/bridges-to-prosperity for a detailed day-by-day account of the bridge build.
Team member Eric Vilce shared, “Working with Bridges to Prosperity to build the La Conga bridge was truly a humbling experience. Being able to apply some of my technical skills to help bridge two communities is something that I will forever take pride in.”