Build a Bridge and Get Over It

By , November 15, 2016
Tyler Mullins

Something that the official InvadR POV (visible here) doesn’t fully show is just how well the new ride will interact with the surrounding attractions. The coaster is reminiscent of a Roller Coaster Tycoon creation with how it’s tucked into the pre-existing area, traveling over a maintenance road, the park’s railroad, and a 41-year-old log flume. The ride will also travel over itself three separate times, including over its first drop.

If InvadR was a steel coaster, then the track wouldn’t have any issue going over these obstacles – a steel coaster is typically supported by a bunch of big steel columns with large gaps in-between them. But for a coaster like InvadR, even though the supports are made of steel they’re built in an intricate pattern as if they were made of wood. And this intricate pattern means the largest gap between bents is only nine feet. When accounting for clearance envelopes, nine feet isn’t sufficient space for all those things passing under the ride.

The solution? Build a bridge and get over it. Not just one bridge, but a whopping ten.

Many of InvadR’s bents are built on top of these long steel bridges, the longest of which is below the first drop and spans nearly 40 feet. And while these allow for the ride to be built over and around obstacles like the flume and train, designing and manufacturing the bridges also creates new challenges and problems to solve.

For starters, the bridges have to be manufactured to exact specifications. Something being cut short or offset even 1/16 of an inch could potentially render the whole bridge useless and require a new one to be fabricated. To avoid this costly headache, the dimensions are checked multiple times by multiple people ensuring that everything is correct.

Another challenge is incorporating the bridge into the rest of the structure, which calls for a lot of unique and custom connection pieces to attach bents and ribbons to the bridges. These produce challenges too, as they all have to be designed, checked-over, and fabricated. And it’s always possible that the original design isn’t as ideal as expected and that it’ll need revised, which in turn restarts the cycle all over again.

I’ve really enjoyed all the problem solving that comes with these bridges and I have learned a lot regarding terminology, steel fabrication, and structural stability. I’m also really excited to see these bridges be fabricated and installed at the park, as their installation allows for a lot more of the ride to be constructed.

Alongside this work on InvadR’s bridges I’ve also been checking bents atop some of Mystic Timbers’ bridges, creating assembly drawings for parts of InvadR’s structure, and completing miscellaneous tasks as needed. It’s hard to believe I’ve already been at GCII for two-and-a-half months and that I only have one-and-a-half more, but I’m still loving the experience.

I’ll write again in a couple weeks and share more on the progress of these new rides, so stay tuned!

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