ROTC cadets take bridge from blueprints to reality

ROTC cadets work on footings for footbridge.

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

A couple years in the making, a coordinated effort this week replaced an aging -- and somewhat tilting -- footbridge that crosses Clear Creek.

The creek flows through the area known as Pammel Woods in the northwest corner of campus. The area serves as an outdoor classroom for Iowa State students and a training ground for the Army ROTC program.

"We use it almost every Wednesday," said Master Sgt. Chris Shaiko, senior military instructor. "This is a great way for us to give back to the area we use."

Iowa-based Snyder and Associates designed the bridge, which spans 45 feet across the creek. It is 6-feet wide and, unlike its predecessor, includes hand railings. Shaiko said it was designed to accommodate two lanes of cadets crossing in full gear.

Facilities planning and management staff provided equipment and support, the provost's office and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences provided funding, and members from the Iowa National Guard 224th engineer battalion, based in Fairfield, were on site to assist as "subject matter experts." But it was a group of about 30 ISU ROTC cadets that spent time between classes earlier this week to organize and implement the construction.

Kyle Schmidt, a senior civil engineering major, said the vision for the project took root his sophomore year. He credited Christian Stornello, who now is an enlisted Army private, and many cadets -- past and present -- who helped make it a reality.

"I'm completely geeking out about building this bridge," he said. "I'm excited to see it happen after all this time."

Ames legacy

The original footbridge was constructed more than 30 years ago as an Eagle Scout project. Then-17-year-old Steve Dinsmore organized Boy Scout Troop 275 and a group of ROTC volunteers for the project. They converted donated telephone poles and lumber planks into a footbridge aimed at preventing erosion from path users who climbed the banks to cross the creek.

Dinsmore, now a professor in natural resource ecology and management, said the structure likely was damaged by floodwaters that shifted one of the telephone poles.

"I knew it would last a while, certainly more than 10 years," Dinsmore said. "It was meant to be a simple thing. It will be nice to see it replaced."