In coordination with Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), Balfour Beatty recently celebrated the completion of a 430-foot suspended footbridge in the isolated rural Espiritu Santo community near Cochabamba, Bolivia. Planned for months and constructed by Balfour Beatty’s 10-member, volunteer team over two weeks, the new footbridge helps support B2P’s dedication to building footbridges over impassible rivers so that isolated communities can access healthcare, education and economic opportunities.
Located in a mountainous region at an elevation over 8,000 feet, the Espiritu Santo community is situated within the Andes mountain range. The residents of Espiritu Santo are fishermen and farmers who grow various crops including cassava, pineapples, bananas, oranges, avocados and papayas to provide for their families. To access the markets, schools and health services in Cochabamba, they must cross the Espiritu Santo River, which is too dangerous to cross year-round.
“The Bridges to Prosperity experience was nothing short of amazing – the community members were fantastic, the Bridges to Prosperity team was awesome and our team came together like a family,” said Aislinn Smith, project manager at Balfour Beatty and 2018 B2P team leader. “Not only was this a transformational project for the Espiritu Santo community, but the experience profoundly impacted everyone on our team. We built this bridge for local children to have a safe passage to school, for farmers to buy and sell goods, and for families to have easier access to medical care. With another successful project completed, we’re excited to start planning our next B2P project.”
Prior to completing the footbridge, locals could only cross the river on a make-shift zip line (zip line video). Though precarious, the zip line was the only way they could transport heavy pouches of goods and products between villages, and access Cochabamba for basic services. In just the past three years, locals reported that two people lost their lives and another 10 people were injured attempting to cross the river. The new Espiritu Santo Suspended Bridge now offers safe, year-round passage for over 1,400 people, and provides increased opportunities for trade and welfare that will empower the communities to thrive.
To fund the trip, the build team took on fundraising efforts, receiving significant support of over $107,000 from colleagues, friends, family and Balfour Beatty business partners. With the help of the company’s national strategic procurement team, Balfour Beatty’s build team received financial and in-kind support from a total of 312 supporters. The title sponsors include Performance Door and Hardware, Schneider Electric, BARR Concrete, ECS, GLX Constructors, Heede, HOOKCAM, Knock-Out Specialties, NAFCO, P&A Roofing and Sheet Metal, Pro-Craft Construction, Southern Safety & Supply, Sunbelt Rentals, and Titan Electric Georgia.
Learn more about the build team’s sponsors and experience by visiting the Balfour Beatty Bridges to Prosperity blog.
About Bridges to Prosperity
Bridges to Prosperity is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization dedicated to the eradication of extreme poverty through rural infrastructure development focused on footbridges. Since its founding in 2001, Bridges to Prosperity has served more than 920,000 people in 20 countries with the construction of over 245 bridges. In addition to providing much-needed mobility, these bridge projects serve to teach footbridge construction to local communities and provide opportunities for leadership development and personal growth through international collaboration. Learn more at www.bridgestoprosperity.org.
About Balfour Beatty
Balfour Beatty is an industry-leading provider of general contracting, at-risk construction management and design-build services for public and private sector clients across the United States. Performing heavy civil and vertical construction, the company is part of Balfour Beatty plc (LSE: BBY), a leading international infrastructure group that provides innovative and efficient infrastructure that underpins our daily lives, supports communities and enables economic growth. Consistently ranked among the nation’s largest contractors, Balfour Beatty is the No. 6 Domestic Building Contractor in the United States as ranked by Engineering News-Record. To learn more, visit www.balfourbeattyus.com.