The last few days in Panama City have been exciting! We are currently staying in a hostel in the heart of the city. Our goal in the next few days is to determine a game plan for possible bridge site explorations. We have meetings set up with local authorities and municipalities to discuss our plans and seek their assistance in the search of viable bridge sites. During this process we have to be clear about or goals and objectives, which is, our main purpose is to work alongside the community and provide resources (both technical and materials) to help construct a footbridge which the local inhabitants could use to visit schools, have access to clinics and marketplace during the monsoon season.
One certain bridge site is the Boqueron River bridge. 2 days ago visited the site to obtain an initial survey and determine specific site requirements for the bridge. This project will be constructed in collaboration with EWB-Panama, the Panama Canal Authority and the civil engineering department of a local Panamanian University. During our visit we explored the community and had a chance to discuss the bridge with the nearby residents. We also obtained details regarding high water levels which are critical when determining the sag of the footbridge. Also, the last monsoon season had caused excessive flooding in the surrounding community therefore it is important to obtain a good understanding of high water levels to ensure the bridge does not get destroyed by debris or fast flowing water. Based on our talk with the local residents there is excitement about this bridge within the community as crossing the river during the monsoon season has always been a burden for the locals. We will discuss our findings and work collectively with all involved parties to come up with a suitable design. Monsoon season starts in mid-summer and runs till November so it is a high priority to begin construction as soon as possible.