CHALLOMA CHICO FOOTBRIDGE
For its third B2P collaboration, SYSTRA IBT teamed with the Walsh Group to plan, finance, and build a 48 m (157 ft) suspended bridge over a branch of the River Yaco located in a remote, precipitous region of the Bolivian Andes. The elevation of the area ranges from 3,500 – 4,300 m (11,000 – 14,000 ft). The project serves two communities, Challoma Grande and Challoma Chico, located on opposite sides of the river. Prior to the bridge’s construction, a crude timber traverse provided the lone passage between these villages, and Challoma Grande has the region’s only emergency health clinic, its only school, and its only access road to other distant population centers. During rainy seasons, torrents would often render the short, low-level timbers unsafe or impassible, isolating Challoma Chico villagers from critical lifeline and other important services. The new high-level bridge now provides a safe year-round crossing between these two sister villages. By enlisting Challoma’s residents to assist in the construction effort, the project also featured important cultural and technology exchanges. Methods introduced by the Walsh-SYSTRA IBT team enabled the completion of the deck and other critical operations over a nine-day period, allowing the bridge to open one day ahead of its scheduled inauguration festivities. This prompted a first-time visit to this remote area by the Provincial Governor and other dignitaries from La Paz, located 250 km (155 miles) away over dirt roads and treacherous mountain switchbacks.