BAGHDAD — On the banks of the mighty Tigris River, a track excavator slowly inched forward, pushing a land-based on ramp towards a pontoon suspension bridge.
Simple pins, connecting the two, marked the Aug. 31 completion of a spectacular engineering effort from three separate engineer entities that took a month to complete.
Engineers of the 225th Engineer Brigade, the 555th Engineer Brigade and elements of the Headquarters, 4th and 5th Iraqi Army Field Engineer Regiments have literally bridged the gap while spanning the river to reduce traffic inside of Baghdad in accordance with the Security Agreement.
On July 27, the 277th Engineer Company, 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), 225th Eng. Bde., began the massive job of removing 6,000 cubic yards of dirt to level both banks of the river for the bridge's on and off ramps. Using the Army's largest bulldozer, the D9, San Antonio based engineers moved some 400 dump truck loads worth of dirt in only 23 days.
"The 277th Engineer Company's scope of work was to construct the near side and far side approach and the boat launch sites. This was done with a variety of engineer operations of cutting and filling; loading and hauling and grading, leveling and compacting," said plans officer, Maj. Shane Rauh of Baton Rouge, La.
Next, Soldiers of the 555th Eng. Bde. assembled the ramps of the Mabey Johnson bridge and launched the portion of bridge suspended by pontoons over the Tigris.
The final phase of the engineer tri-fecta was a company sized element from the Iraqi Army Field Engineer Regiments. The partnership was not only great training for the emplacement of the actual bridge, but allowed the U.S. Soldiers to show the Iraqis how to maintain the bridge once U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq.
"The big significance here is this is my first time that I know of ... that we've actually built a bridge alongside the Iraqi brethren and the Iraqi engineers. It's a huge significance because we've got [three] regiments out here worth of people helping us out to build this bridge," Capt. John Davis of Virginia Beach, Va., commander of the 50th Multi-Role Bridge Company explained.
"We were able to train them in the past on the Mabey Johnson on how to do the emplacement and maneuver of these bridges and to get them out here on site and to get them building and all come together, there's just a lot of national pride out here," he said.
For the 50th MRBC, working with the Mabey Johnson was not a first, but suspending the bridge with pontoons to make a sort of floating bridge was a first that allowed for a rare training opportunity.
"This is a nonstandard bridge. This is something we bought and are using based on operational needs in Iraq right now," Davis continued. "So this is great for them to get training and get experience to carry on to the next generation of Army [bridge builders]."
"This is a Mabey Johnson Combat 200 version. It is capable of pretty much crossing any kind of traffic the military has right now. It will enable the units in this area to have freedom of maneuver ... to keep the fight progressing," said Davis.
The bridge opened to military traffic Aug. 31.
This work, U.S., Iraqi army Engineers open new bridge over Tigris, by 1LT Rebekah Malone, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.