CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One of the largest and most impressive feats of design and construction at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve neared completion Tuesday.
The CONSOL Energy Wingtip Bridge, a 786-foot-long and 100-foot-tall span, will carry Boy Scouts at this summer's National Jamboree to Action Point, an area where they can take in activities like zip lining, BMX and skateboarding.
The bridge's design is unique; there isn't another like it anywhere in the world. While its main deck is flat, two side paths wind high above and far below the main deck.
The wood came from local black locust trees, said Gary Hartley, director of community and governmental relations for the Summit. It doesn't need to be stained or painted and can withstand harsh weather for years.
"The Boy Scouts are about 100 years old as of last year," said J. Brett Harvey, chairman and CEO of CONSOL Energy. "So, they have a great history, but they also have a great future as well. We see this bridge as a transition for the last 100 years to the next 100 years for the Boy Scouts.
"It's an icon."
The bridge was a necessity at the Boy Scouts' new home at the 10,600-acre plot of rugged terrain that straddles Fayette and Raleigh counties. Few vehicles will be used on site, and the many hills and ravines would have made foot travel time consuming for the more than 50,000 Scouts and others who will attend the Jamboree.
CONSOL Energy donated $15 million for the project. German-based structural engineering firm Schlaich Bergermann and Partner worked with Canadian tunneling and transit engineering firm Hatch Mott McDonald to design and build the span.
Boy Scout officials believe it will become an icon in the world of Scouting.
The final planks were laid Tuesday in an unveiling ceremony.
More than 100 students from the Collins Middle School Band of Oak Hill led the way down the bridge before the ceremony, which featured an official ribbon cutting. Scouts from Charleston's Buckskin Council were also in attendance.
Chris Wunderly, 17, of South Charleston, called the bridge "fantabulous."
"It's not quite finished yet, but I'd love to walk on the side parts. It looks scary and fun," he said. "A lot of people are going to be here, and to be one of the first makes me feel pretty special."