By Spc. Howard Alperin, MND-B PAOApril 9, 2009
VICTORY BASE COMPLEX, Iraq - The 277th Engineer Company is resurfacing the Western Bypass Road on the west side of the al-Faw Palace connecting Camp Liberty and Camp Victory. Soldiers are conducting roadwork to keep the Western Bypass Road serviceable so it can continue to relieve congestion from smaller roads traveling through Camp Liberty and Camp Victory.
Soldiers of the 277th realize the relevance their work has on improving the Western Bypass as a main road for transporting various assets and resources. "It is a strategically important road because so many heavy hauler vehicles use it so frequently and it cuts travel time down for all traffic," said non-commissioned officer-in-charge, Staff Sgt. David Arispe, an Army Reserve Soldier assigned to the 277th Engineer Co., attached to the 46th Eng. Battalion, 225th Eng. Brigade, here.
Engineers have been smoothing out the road section by section over the last two weeks. They expect to wrap up work on the new road by mid-April, said Arispe, a native of San Antonio.
One of the challenges for the unit is completing the project without disrupting the regular flow of traffic. "We want to complete it in a timely manner without having to close it much because it is such a high-traffic, high-volume route connecting the two main camps, and Camp Slayer," said assistant NCOIC, Sgt. James Bartholomae, of the 277th Eng. Co., also from San Antonio.
On the busy road, fuel trucks, water trucks, supply trucks, military security vehicles and standard sport utility vehicles keep Soldiers aware of the urgency and productivity the project offers. "It's a popular road because there are no stop signs or pedestrians," said Bartholomae. "By fixing the road, it saves a lot of wear and tear on vehicles and makes daily operations more efficient," he emphasized.
Work on the road is fast-paced. Soldiers must communicate with each other during the day to understand their roles and responsibilities in the project.
Throughout the day, Arispe and Bartholomae give instructions and expectations to their 277th heavy equipment operators because the project requires constant evaluation. "Planning is the most critical aspect to what we do out here," said Bartholomae. "Soldiers have a plan for each task being worked on," he said as he used a closed fist to stop one flow of traffic and his right hand to wave the other direction of traffic through.
Fixing the road to make it smooth with ample space for travel is the unit's main goal. Spc. Juan Castillo, a heavy equipment operator of the 277th Eng. Co., from San Antonio, ripped up the ground with a High Mobility Engineer Excavator, then with the bulldozer's scoop, moved the excavated dirt from one area to another.
Soldiers switch out from one heavy equipment vehicle to another to loosen the ground, then compact it with foundation made up of limestone and river rock, said Arispe, as he signaled to the heavy equipment operator to dig deeper. After adding the foundation, they smooth out the road with the heavy equipment by making adjustments to flatten the earth, taking out high spots and filling in low spots, he added.
Coordinating the heavy equipment Soldiers use on a road already filled with heavy haulers and additional vehicles places more awareness on traffic safety. "Good traffic control is for the safety of the people driving through," said Bartholomae. "We must work together and be focused to have good safety on the ground because we don't want accidents," he said.
Soldiers of the 277th know a good foundation is the basis of a solid road and they are working to make sure the road most traveled stays in good condition. They continue to lay the groundwork of success for the present and the future of Victory Base Complex.