By Pfc. Lyndsey R. Dransfield
2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Engineers with 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team "Warrior," 25th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, journeyed to the Grand Canal Bridge in Taji Qada, northwest of Baghdad July 22, 2008, to monitor repair progress.
The bridge which spans a portion of the Grand Canal and is one of the key crossing along the main highway, west of the Tigris River was damaged by two terrorist attacks last year.
The first attack happened May 11, 2007, when a terrorist drove a vehicle-born improvised explosive device onto the middle of the southbound lane. When it detonated, it left a massive hole in the middle of the lane. The second attack occurred August 14, 2007. Another VBIED was detonated in the northbound lane, sending a large span of the bridge plummeting into the water below.
Although temporary fixes were made, the damage caused other side effects such as increased traffic and severe corrosion to the river banks.
A local Iraqi construction company, Rownaq al Mas, was contracted by the government of Iraq to rebuild both lanes of the bridge and remove fallen debris from the canal below.
"What is most significant about this project is that the Iraqis are doing this completely on their own," said Capt. Mark Gillman, a native of Las Vegas, and assistant engineer, 2nd SBCT, 25th Inf. Div., "The bridge is funded by the Iraqi government, a local company is doing all of the work, and the Iraqi army is here for security."
The project is separated into two phases; each phase is scheduled for completion in three months. During the first phase the contractors are working to repair the hole in the northbound lane and break down the fallen span to remove it from the canal piece by piece.
During the second phase they will focus completely on rebuilding the missing portion of the bridge in the southbound lane.
The workers began construction June 29, 2008, and have made a good amount of progress preparing foot paths, insuring the safety of the foundation and removing asphalt around the damaged area to begin installing the steel received last week.
The steel portion of the bridge is on schedule to be finished in less then two weeks and from there the workers will move onto pouring the concrete, which should take a total of 28 days.
"By the end of the year the bridge will look like it used to," said Gillman
Each time a vehicle crosses the bridge, it passes a bold sign that can't be missed by the passengers inside. Printed in Arabic the sign screams the words "We will rebuild."
"Seeing this project gives the people of Iraq confidence in themselves and their government. It gives them hope for the future," said Saleem Abdul Karim, bicultural and bilingual advisor who works with the civil engineers and is a subject matter expert in engineering. "It is a light at the end of a tunnel."
This work, Government of Iraq renews bridge of ruins, by SSG Lyndsey Prax, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.