555th Engineer Brigade work to improve Iraqi Roads
May 20, 2009
SALAH AD-DIN PROVINCE, Iraq - It was more than 20 years ago when the Iraqi government built a road to connect Iraq Highway 1 with the Balad air base and nearby Bakir Village. Since that time the population in this province has grown. Not only did this road support the air base, local farmers and province residents depended on this highway as well.
Like other roads, with continued use, weather and poor maintenance took their toll. Over time the Al Hydria to Al Bakir Road degraded to an eight kilometer potholed strip of dirt and gravel. Under the direction of U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. William Moiles and Soldiers from the 555th Engineer Brigade, this road will soon be ready for sustained use.
Moiles, a Naval Civil Engineer Corps officer with the Navy, is assigned to the brigade office of Civil Capacity and Economic Development. Moiles is responsible to oversee funds and projects under the Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP). These are select projects chosen for their benefits to the Iraqi people in the continuing effort to help them rebuild their infrastructure, promote security and stimulate economic growth.
The 555th Engineer Brigade, from Ft. Lewis, Wa., has nearly 36 million dollars of such work in place. The CERP funds have been used across five Iraqi provinces to rebuild schools and provide water purification plants.
Moiles said the project has been ongoing for several months.
"It started in November of 2008 with initial repairs and a gravel sub base," he said.
The scope of work for this project called for improvements to the road shoulders and the replacement of 18 culverts along the route. "The project is nearing completion," added Moiles. "The contractor started laying down the asphalt in January of this year."
Like many other civil capacity projects sponsored by the 555th Eng. Bde, the Al Hydria to Al Bakir Road repair will provide benefits to the local area.
"It starts with using a local contractor, who employs and pays workers from this region," said Moiles. This project is being completed by the Balad Al-Kema Company. The economic benefits don't end there. "We (the brigade) are also stimulating the local economy by purchasing the gravel and asphalt as well," he said.
In addition to the listed local benefits, the project will also improve the force protection for Coalition forces traveling in the area.
"By cleaning up the road shoulders and laying down a new road surface, we're making it difficult for our enemies to place [roadside bomb(s)] along this highway." said Moiles.
Moiles sees other CERP projects in the future for the 555th Engineer Brigade and local contractors.
"Any time we can help with the Iraqi reconstruction efforts and provide local employment, it's a good thing," he said.