By Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsAugust 24, 2018
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Aug. 24, 2018) -- Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commanding general said that in his four decades as a Soldier he never had the honor of accepting a bridge ... until now.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was conducted Aug. 24 to celebrate the opening of the newly completed Nash Boulevard bridge. This will permit Fort Drum personnel from the main cantonment to travel a direct route to Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield without having to exit post and re-enter through additional security checkpoints.
"As a Soldier, we see bridges as key terrain," he said. "If you hold this terrain, you have a decisive advantage over your enemy. As for bridges, we seek to control them before the enemy does. We need them to cross rivers and overcome significant obstacles. I have defended bridges, captured bridges and I have blown bridges up, but I've never accepted one, and I really like accepting one over the previous actions I've had with bridges."
Piatt said that this bridge is key terrain because it will increase the security and safety of everyone who lives and works on post.
"This key terrain is a symbol of the unique and wonderful relationship we have at Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division has with the state of New York," he said. "Not only does this bridge connect our cantonment area with our airfield, it does much, much more. It connect this post and the 10th Mountain Division to New York, confirming what I know - that New York cares deeply for Soldiers and their families and work hard to make the North Country the best community in the United States."
Before leading the attendees on a short trek on the bridge to mark the occasion, Piatt had one last thought on the subject.
"The real key terrain is the people of New York and the North Country," he said. "Those who see this bridge from this day forward will see a magnificent structure, but I will always see the commitment of our local representatives who understand the strategic importance of Fort Drum."
Bridges are complicated projects and can take years to complete. This was not the case on the $7.6 million Nash Boulevard bridge project, according to Steven Kokkoris, New York State Department of Transportation Region 7 director.
Kokkoris said that this project was completed in much less time and without many of the delays that normal bridge projects face. This was due, in part, to the partnership between the NYS DOT, Fort Drum Public Works, post engineers and the Fort Drum Environmental Division staff.
N.Y. State Department of Transportation Commissioner Paul Karas said that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a series of commitments to Fort Drum in his 2015 State of the State Address, to include projects on Route 26 to increase traffic capacity, reduce congestion and enhance installation security.
"The governor pushed hard for these improvements and, today, his vision is being finalized," Karas said.