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Cub Scouts get inside look at nuts, bolts of bridge building

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Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, 12:31 a.m.

Sure, they've seen bridge construction before.

The arms of the mammoth cranes rebuilding the ramps of the Freeport Bridge for the past three years have been hard to miss.

But four Cub Scout packs got to learn Saturday just how bridges are built, how to survey the land beforehand and just how big those bridge parts can be.

Brayman Construction Corp. in Clinton Township opened up its facility for the first time to the Scouts on Saturday afternoon.

The company specializes in bridge building and other large industrial projects. Brayman is nearly done with the $64 million Freeport Bridge project and is in the early stages of building the replacement for the Hulton Bridge between Harmar and Oakmont.

There was work Saturday for the 29 Scouts.

Outfitted in yellow plastic hard hats, they learned about the importance of rebar and other nuts and bolts of bridge-making to help them earn their engineering pin.

“We're actually going to do some math here today,” Chris Schriner, a manager and a civil engineer with Brayman, told the group.

Schriner set up surveying equipment on Brayman's front lawn as a Cub Scout dutifully held a rod in the distance for his fellow Scouts to make measurements.

Then there was the heavy machinery and building area where welders and other workers moved countless steel beams, odd shapes of metal and a lot of rebar.

“What is rebar?” asked Shawn Bowser, a project manager and mechanical engineer at Brayman. “Concrete will crack, but steel (rods) — rebar — will hold it together.”

Scout Joey George, 11, of Allegheny Township, with Pack 551 Hyde Park, said, “I've never been to something like this before — getting to see the machinery and how they are welding.”

Scout Sam Ryan, 9, of Kiski Township, with Pack 553 Leechburg, said, “All the equipment to dig holes is awesome. The safety equipment was pretty neat, too.”

There were oohs and aahs as the Scouts perused the safety equipment, particularly the harness and accompanying straps for bridge work.

“This will teach them a lot about safety,” said Rick Kennedy of East Franklin, Cubmaster for Pack 655 Kittanning. “And this will give them an idea of what it takes to construct a bridge.”

James Osborne of East Franklin, den leader of Pack 655 Kittanning, said, “It's great for them to see what engineers and construction workers actually do and see the equipment up close.”

The Scout organizers seemed especially excited about the Brayman event.

“We look for events with resources that are hard to come by,” said Francis Batson of Clarion, district executive for Boy Scouts River Valley District.

Initially, one of the Scout groups wanted to tour the Freeport Bridge work site but that would have been too dangerous, said Kelli Geyer, spokeswoman for Brayman.

So the company decided that it could provide a hands-on, real-life experience with bridge-making at its Clinton Township headquarters, Geyer said.

Brayman, which has made financial donations to the Boy Scouts, is interested in opening up its facilities to the troops again next year, she said.

Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or



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