Minnesota National Guard Improves Roadways
April 11, 2007
CAMP ADDER, Iraq, April 11, 2007 - Minnesota Army National Guard Soldiers and Iraqi citizens of Al Batha recently restored 15 kilometers of Al Batha city streets in southern Iraq.
The Soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division's civil military operations team supervised projects to grade the city's streets, which had not been repaired in the last 20 years. Most of the streets were nothing more than dirt trails with deep ruts from vehicle traffic.
"Many of the streets had eight-foot-wide pot holes filled with mud, sewage and garbage; making the streets impassable for municipal vehicles, daily routines and commercial transit," said Capt. Colin Fleming of Burnsville, Minn., 1/34 Brigade Combat Team deputy civil military operations officer.
The project restored many streets in Al Batha to serviceable gravel roads free of the sewage and debris that partially obstructed many of the city's streets.
The repair of the streets inspired Al Batha city officials to work with provincial authorities to pave the streets and complete the project. To date more than 30 miles of roads have been repaired in Dhi Qar province. The 1/34 Brigade Combat Team have completed several other road projects throughout Iraq.
Since April 1, 2006, south-central Iraq has seen improvement of more than 540 kilometers of roadways through a highway maintenance program employing local workers to clean up highways. The program removed debris along highways to provide routes safe from roadside bombs for civilian traffic and Coalition Forces.
Last fall, the 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery team constructed a new bridge over a canal in the rural date-farming village of Bahkan in Babil province near Camp Scania. The project coordinated by 1st Lt. Stephen Hall of Austin, Minn., deputy effects officer for 1-125 team, selected a contractor and workers from Bahkan.
"I picked a contractor from that community and all the workers were hired from Bahkan so they took pride in the work. Now the main access to their village is open again," 1st Lt. Hall said. The old bridge, made of concrete only a foot thick, was the only access across canals surrounding the village, home to more than 100 families. It had degraded to the point the underlying support beams were showing as travelers passed over it.
In Dhi Qar and Babil provinces, civil transportation offices are rare. Many roads are left impassable year-round from heavy erosion during the winter rainy seasons. Residents are left to find alternative passage to basic necessities of agriculture, clean drinking water and schools. After more than one year in Iraq, more than 270 projects have been completed by 1/34 BCT CMO teams throughout the country to assist the provinces and gain support for Coalition Forces.
The Minnesota National Guard 1/34 Brigade Combat Team has more than 2,600 Guardsmen in Iraq plus Soldiers from Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, New Jersey, Georgia and California, plus several active-duty units.