Bridges to Prosperity
Imagine risking your life to get to school, the doctor or to work. Imagine walking miles out of your way each day to find a safer point to cross a river. This is part of the day-to-day life for thousands of people in rural communities around the world. Their opportunities are restricted and their lives can even be lost all for lack of a simple footbridge.
Flatiron has partnered with Bridges to Prosperity, a non-profit organization that has built nearly 100 footbridges over impassable or life-threatening river crossings in 14 countries around the world. Flatiron employees have helped design and build footbridges in rural areas of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Flatiron is proud to support Bridges to Prosperity through major funding, material supply, innovative design and on-site volunteer project management and labor.
Check out this video on the 2012 volunteer trip to El Rodeo, Nicaragua, and see even more videos from the trip on the Flatiron YouTube Channel.
A Natural Partnership
One of America's top bridge builders, Flatiron has earned a reputation for innovation, excellence and speed. This partnership allows Flatiron to help small villages around the world by sharing our bridge building expertise, and by supplying materials and labor to help build reliable, sustainable footbridges.
At each bridge site, Flatiron sponsors a multi-disciplinary team of employees: engineers, supervisors, laborers and support staff. These employees also act as on-site trainers for the local populace, teaching design, construction and maintenance fundamentals. To date, more than 60 Flatiron employees have travelled as part of one of these bridge-building teams.
How can a single footbridge affect a rural village without a river crossing? According to Bridges to Prosperity, within two years of bridge completion people in these communities experience, on average:
- 10 to 20% increase in per capita income
- 24% increase in employment for women
- 12% increase in school enrollment
- 18% increase in use of local health care clinics
These new bridges allow communities to plan, grow, and thrive in ways previously impossible. As Flatiron engineer Natalia Torres said, "A local woman who lived at the project site told me for her whole life, it had been her dream to have a bridge built over the river. The feeling of making someone's dream come true was very special."
The Education Circle
Flatiron also works with senior students at the Colorado School of Mines, challenging these young engineers to create innovative designs for sustainable footbridges.
Collaborating with these students and their peers, Flatiron employees design each footbridge individually, to fit each community's unique needs and environment. Next, the team scouts building sites and works to procure building materials. As the actual bridge construction dates near, the team works to complete last-minute details and gets ready for the hard work ahead of them onsite.
There they will face new challenges -- limited access to tools, equipment, materials and electricity - challenges that will sharpen their minds and strengthen their ties to their fellow team members and local villagers. At the building site, Flatiron volunteers help local laborers develop marketable, sustainable construction skills that they can use on future community projects.
As Flatiron employees share their skills with villagers from around the world, those villagers share their perspectives and knowledge with the Flatiron workers. Employees return home refreshed and energized. "The enjoyment and satisfaction of working with local people and each other is hard to put in words," says Flatiron drafting engineer technician David Hetzel, "Suffice to say: It's one of the best experiences I've ever had."
March 2014 two teams collaborated on Flatiron's longest footbridge built to date as part of Flatiron's Bridges to Prosperity program. The 345-foot long bridge in Paso Real, Nicaragua is expected to serve 650 people each day. The new bridge is located about two hours from Managua, Nicaragua, and near two projects we completed in 2013.
Group Company Involvement
Flatiron is owned by HOCHTIEF, a large international construction company headquartered in Germany. Flatiron started working with Bridges to Prosperity in 2009, and HOCHTIEF joined the effort in 2012. HOCHTIEF's other U.S. subsidiary, Turner Construction, and Flatiron subsidiary E.E. Cruz are also involved in the program. Employees from Turner and E.E. Cruz participated in 2012 bridge building trips.
In July 2012, HOCHTIEF employees (as well as two Flatiron employees) built Bridges to Prosperity's 100th footbridge bridge over the Nyamabare River in northern Rwanda. Learn more about the trip.
Watch this video on the Flatiron project in La Taña, Guatemala in 2010:
In 2011, Flatiron constructed this bridge with Bridges to Prosperity in Melara, El Salvador: