Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Baghdad Governor Opens Rustimiyah Bridge

A new land bridge connecting the Mada’in Qada and Baghdad opened Feb. 22. The government of Iraq constructed the bridge to alleviate traffic congestion and plans on rehabilitating a larger, adjacent bridge (in background), which was damaged by a truck bomb May 11, in coming months.

Mushen Nasser, the Mada’in Qada mayor, listens to the chairman of the Joint Rural Planning Committee of the Mada’in Qada at a ceremony marking the opening of a new land bridge connecting the Mada’in Qada to Baghdad, Feb. 22.

An ensemble plays the Iraqi national anthem at a ceremony marking the opening of a land bridge connecting the Mada’in Qada to Baghdad, Feb. 22.

Iraqi motorcycle police from Baghdad parade across a new land bridge connecting the Mada’in Qada and Baghdad, Feb. 22.

By Maj. Joe Sowers
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Div

Public Affairs Office

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Hussein Tahan, governor of Baghdad province, cut a ribbon to open the new Rustimiyah Bridge across the Diyala River, Feb. 22.

The new bridge runs adjacent to a larger bridge that was damaged when an extremist detonated a truck bomb on it, May 11. The larger bridge reopened May 16, but remains in need of rehabilitation.

“Today is a great day,” said Tahan during a speech at the opening ceremony. “It is a sign that security has improved.”

The governor went on to highlight future governmental projects.

“This year is the year of services,” Tahan said. “In the last few days, I’ve signed contracts for projects worth more than 30 billion Iraqi dinar and there is more to come.”

Lt. Col. Ryan Kuhn, from Clarks, Neb., the 3rd Brigade Combat Team deputy commanding officer, said local governmental leaders resourced and managed the bridge construction with very little coalition support.

“This was completely done by the Iraqis,” Kuhn said. “All of the contracting and construction was done by Iraqis. There was no external support. This just goes to show what the government of Iraq can accomplish when security is in place.”

Kuhn said the bridge will facilitate the movement of agricultural products from the Mada’in Qada to Baghdad by helping alleviate congested traffic along a key route connecting the qada and the capital city. He estimated 60 percent of the qada economy is connected to “agro-business.” Local leaders plan to further renovate the larger bridge for commercial traffic, while the new bridge will be restricted to commuters.

The 1-15 Inf. Regt. is assigned to the 3rd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March.

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