Rural Studio students help open bridge in Perry County

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Contributed Report

The Demopolis Times

MARION &045;&045; On Saturday, December 4, the Perry Lakes Bridge was formally opened.

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Four Rural Studio students began the project in the 2003-4 school year.

These students were:

Sara Singleton of Birmingham, Matthew Edwards of Southside near Gadsden, Charlie Jorgensen of Winter Park FL, and Lynielle Houston of Birmingham.

Houston has taken a job at a school in Philadelphia so Sara, Matthew, and Charlie have completed the walking bridge.

Assisted by an engineer from Chicago, Joe Farruggia, the students designed and then executed this monumental plan.

The bridge consists of two outer sections which cantilever to support a center section.

A gigantic crane lowered the three sections of steel trusses into place.

The trusses were covered with recycled tin roof.

The walkway hangs on rods below the tin roof and is made of cypress wood.

On Saturday Perry County Probate Judge Donald Cook welcomed guests.

Greetings were also given by Johnny Flowers, chairman of the Perry County Commission, and by Edward Daniels, Mayor of the city of Marion.

The four Rural Studio students and the elected officials participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Approximately 100 people were present for the ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday.

Rural Studio supplied a lunch of BBQ sandwiches, drinks, and chips.

Bobby Scott of Newbern prepared the BBQ.

Rural Studio students of the 2001-2 school year completed Phase I, a pavilion, at Perry Lakes Park.

When Hurricane Ivan roared through Perry County, a tree fell onto the pavilion causing major damage.

Plans are being made to repair the damage.

In Phase II during the 2002-3 school year Rural Studio students constructed three public restroom structures and a wooden walkway.

The three rugged restrooms have unique designs that fit the swampy terrain and provide scenic views as well.

The boardwalk connects the restrooms and parking area with the pavilion and picnicking area.

Phase IV is being planned by 2004-5 Rural Studio students – Paul Howard of Huntsville, Natalie Butts of Auburn, Adrienne Brady of Birmingham, and Coley Mulcahey of Alexandria LA.

Their project is a 100 foot observatory tower for viewing and birdwatching.

The Perry Lakes Recreational Park now offers fishing, a boat ramp, pavilion and picnic area, unique restrooms, a pedestrian bridge, a deck in the swamp, and walking trails.

Fire lanes were converted into nature trails for most of the 12 miles.

There are three miles of primitive footpaths.

The trail system was designed and established by the Perry County Soil and Water Conservation District and the United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service in conjunction with members of the USDA-NRCS Earth Team volunteers.

Many of the different varieties of trees within the park have been identified and tagged by Judson College Biologist Thomas Wilson and Dan James.

Some rare species of trees are located in the park.

Working together the groups are creating a marvelous area for hiking, fishing, swimming, and viewing the area at the Cahaba River.

The Perry Lakes Park and the Barton’s Beach Cahaba River Preserve consist of nearly 1,000 acres of land consisting of oxbow lakes, swamps, sloughs, and streams.

Nature Conservancy owns Barton’s Beach, the largest sandbar on the Cahaba River.

Barton’s Beach offers swimming, hiking, and canoeing of the Cahaba River.

It is the home to different species of fish, turtles, rare species of trees, and other wildlife.

To visit the Perry Lakes Park, travelers continue East of Marion on Highway 14; turn left on Road #175; turn right on the dirt road immediately past the ponds at the Fish Hatchery; continue down the dirt road for 3/4 mile.

The bridge is located on the left just before the restrooms on the right.

The pavilion, picnic tables, and boat ramp are slightly further down the same road.

Barton’s Beach is reached by the walking trail that begins at the end of the dirt road and past the car barrier bar.