Dillon Ranger District partners with Air Force Academy on new McCullough Gulch Bridge
The Forest Service has enlisted some of the United States Air Force Academy’s brightest minds to help design and install a new bridge across McCullough Gulch in the Dillon Ranger District this summer, offering cadets a creative opportunity to earn academic credit.
As part of their programming last fall, the cadets signed up for the Forest Service Bridge Design class taught by professor Stanley Rader, and will see the project all the way through from design to implementation.
“It is rare for undergraduate engineering students to take an actual full-scale construction project from initial design through construction to ribbon cutting,” said Rader. “The support provided by the U.S. Forest Service to allow our Air Force Academy cadets to experience such an opportunity is priceless. What they have learned through this year-long endeavor will yield fruit throughout their Air Force careers serving our nation.”
This is the second class of cadets to collaborate on a project with the White River National Forest. In 2016, a class designed and installed a bridge in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, highlighting the dual benefits to both class participants and the community. This year’s project is no different.
“This project provides unmatched benefits in terms of the cadets’ academic development as engineers and preparation to be leaders as Air Force officers by working in an inter-agency environment and serving the public,” said Greg Rosenmerkel, engineering staff officer for the White River National Forest. “This particular location was chosen because we recently removed an unsafe road bridge and have been relying on a temporary bridge provided by the county. Our challenge this summer is to maintain maximum public access while ensuring safety. We’ll be working closely with the district staff to make that happen.”
Cadets are staying in Breckenridge during the completion and opening of the bridge, in large part thanks to a grant from The Summit Foundation and donations made in the memory of Eric Paul Dube, a Breckenridge resident who passed away suddenly due to an undiagnosed heart condition last year.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held to celebrate the project’s completion at the new McCullough Gulch Bridge at 12 p.m. on Aug. 2.
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