FRP Bridges

Between August 2008 and June 2009, the CTC, under the leadership of General Manager Tony Hook, led construction of three fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) trail bridges in Possum and Rock Creek Gorges. This effort required nearly 10,000 labor-hours, 73% of which was contributed by volunteers, with additional help from Cumberland Trail State Park staff and other State employees. Volunteers represented numerous organizations and schools: AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), Tennessee Trails Association, Team Green, Nashville Hiking Meet-up, American Hiking Society, University of Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State University, Warren-Wilson College, and Baylor School-Chattanooga.

The 60-foot bridge over Big Possum Creek was built first. The CTC and its volunteers did not have experience building this type of bridge, and this site offered the easiest access and the shortest span of the three. First, treated lumber, rebar, concrete, and other construction materials were moved to the bridge site for the footings. Then scaffolding, lumber, and bridge components were moved in. All these materials were carried by hand at least part of the way to the creek, and steel cabling was rigged to move some of them the remaining distance. Once the scaffolding was erected, the bridge components could be bolted together. Upon completion, all construction material was removed the same way it was brought to the site. The second FRP bridge spans Little Possum Creek, and the third crosses Rock Creek in Rock Creek Gorge.

Partial funding for the project was provided by a Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant. The U.S. Department of Transportation administers the RTP in consultation with the National Park Service; grant management was provided by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. In addition to this grant, CTC contributed $26,519 for bridge building supplies, tools, transportation, and the feeding and lodging of out-of town volunteers. This money was raised through CTC’s administration of the Bike Ride Across Tennessee (BRAT), a donation from Rock Creek Outfitters in Chattanooga, grants from the Lyndhurst Foundation and Tennessee Trails Association, as well as contributions from individuals.