Monday, April 03, 2006

McNaughton Park Bridge Article

And yet another article. This one about Andy's new bridge at the park. From the pjs 4/3/06:

A small group of volunteers built a bridge over Lick Creek in McNaughton Park, relying on raw ingenuity and mechanical expertise gained in diverse professions.
"Bridges intrigue me for some reason," said Randall Reliford, a Pekin jeweler who designed the bridge. "It's just pretty amazing how they build some of these things."
Reliford has designed and built 13 other bridges in Pekin parks, but this one, at 60 feet long, is his biggest to date.
It's made primarily of telephone poles, a dozen of which were donated by AmerenCILCO. The Pekin Park District spent $2,800 on the bridge, said Tom Elliot, superintendant of parks. "We're really pleased with it. We know it's going to be there for a long time."
The bridge was the brainchild of Andy Weinberg, a coach and physical education teacher at Pekin Community High School. For the last five years, Weinberg has organized the McNaughton Park Trail Runs, 30-, 50- and 100-mile races run concurrently on the same course. This year's event will take place April 15 and 16. So far 185 people have signed up, most from the Midwest but a few from far-flung places such as New York, California and Germany.
While running through wilderness is part of the sport of "ultra-running," crossing Lick Creek often posed more irritation than challenge. Although the water is rarely more than knee-high, running a hundred miles with wet feet can cause serious chafing and blisters.
Weinberg said one runner carried plastic bags in his pockets and put them over his feet rather than wade through Lick Creek.
"It was muddy and slippery and there were thorns," Weinberg said. "I've wiped out in here plenty of times."
Work began on the bridge shortly after the first of the year. Reliford worked from 6 to 10 most mornings and on weekends. Richard Skocaj, a salesman for Dr. Pepper and
7-Up, whose son Eric will compete in the McNaughton Trail Run, also pitched in weekend hours.
Larry LaBanca, a Pekin pipe fitter, did the bulk of the labor, putting in an estimated 400 hours. "Larry lived here," Skocaj said.
Work was slow this winter, LaBanca said, allowing him to spend "seven days a week" at the bridge site. "My wife wanted me to get out of the house."
It took two weeks to dig holes for bridge supports, working through dense clay soil and chipping away at rock. Their tools were low-tech: a sledgehammer, a heavy metal bar, and a couple of children's plastic sleds to cart away the more than 5 tons of rock they removed. He brought his daughter Elizabeth, 16, and sons Mario, 12, and Armando, 5, on weekends.
"It was fun," said Mario. "I mostly just hauled the rock."
A photo album showed Armando in a full construction jumpsuit and kneepads. "To be like dad," LaBanca said.
"He's a nut," said Skocaj, glancing at the photo. "He's a great little kid."
Work on the bridge is virtually complete. Reliford has only to install a cable.
"What's your dad doing now that the bridge is done?" Weinberg asked two of LaBanca's daughters, who are in his gym class.
"He's going through withdrawal today," they told him - he was visiting the bridge site, even though there was no more work to do

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