Two Rivers bridge gets a makeover
Walking to Two Rivers Park just took a turn for the exotic. Take a close look at the wood you’re walking on the next time you stroll over the newly redecked pedestrian bridge there, and you’ll discover that it’s not pine, redwood or any other common wood beneath your feet. It’s ipe, wood from the tropical Brazilian tree known for its durability and resistance to decay and fire. “It’s got a fire rating the same as concrete or steel,” said Bob Hood, superintendent of the Glenwood Springs Special Works Activities Team.
Crews spent two and a half weeks renovating the 13-year-old bridge. The soft yellow pine decking was quickly decaying and needed to be replaced.When deciding what kind of wood to use to replace the pine, the bridge manufacturer told Hood that ipe would be long-lasting. Hood said the city was considering decking the bridge with concrete, but the ipe was cheaper. The entire bridge renovation cost under $25,000, and was a capital project, Hood said. “They use it on a lot of those high-dollar homes up in Aspen for decks,” Hood said. “I haven’t seen it used around here.”Ipe – pronounced “e-pay” – is used in some high-profile places. According to a 2001 story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the pedestrian walkway on the Brooklyn Bridge and a deck at Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ mansion in Redmond, Wash., are made of ipe.
In the past, ipe has been a controversial wood because of environmentalists’ fears that using the wood could be contributing to rainforest destruction in South America. In 2001, for example, a group called Rainforest Relief unsuccessfully sued to prevent Asbury Park, N.J., from using ipe for boardwalk repairwork. But one Austin, Texas-based ipe purveyor, Everwood Decking Partners, claims on its Web site that it will only purchase ipe from “Brazilian growers who harvest under the guidelines and techniques of sustainable yield forestry” as defined by the International Tropical Timber Organization. Where Glenwood’s ipe came from is unclear. Hood said Lowe’s won the bid to supply the ipe for the project. Jennifer Smith, a spokeswoman for Lowe’s at its North Carolina headquarters said Tuesday the company’s California-based supplier was closed for the day and couldn’t say what the ipe’s origins are. Wherever the ipe comes from, Hood said he hopes the new decking will last many, many years.
He’s hoping for a change in the weather so the ipe will show off its true colors.”It really brings out the color of the wood if it would rain a little bit,” he said. Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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