By Spc. Luisito BrooksApril 20, 2010
ABU GHRAIB, Iraq -- In the neighborhood of Abu Ghraib in Baghdad, the journey to school for children means crossing a treacherous road, but the U.S. Army may help change that.
Capt. Talgin Cannon, a member of the joint project management office from 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, traveled to the area to discuss a project to rebuild a footbridge with a local construction company manager April 6.
The footbridge was destroyed by an improvised explosive device about two years ago, he said, explaining that rebuilding the footbridge would allow safe traveling for the locals in the neighborhood trying to cross the busy road.
"The most important thing is the safety of the children here," said Cannon. "The bridge will help get these kids to school safely without getting hit by a speeding car."
According to several sources, including local Iraqi Police and District Area Council members, at least five children have been killed while trying to cross the busy road this year alone.
"For these kids it's like playing a game of leap frog with their lives every day to go to school and then return home," said Cannon, an Elkin, N.C., native.
For this very reason, reconstruction of the footbridge was the number one project nominated by the council members for completion in the area, which will be funded through the U.S. Army's Commander's Emergency Response Program, he said.
A local construction company was contracted to build the bridge, which will span 25 meters across the two-way road. The cost of the footbridge is estimated at $84,000 and will take several months to complete.
This most recent meeting between Cannon and the contractors was more or less a formality, ensuring that everything was on track in getting the project up and running.
"We didn't stay out there long because the construction company knew what needs to be done," said Cannon, after his meeting with the contractors was complete. "All they really needed was the 'OK' from us."
Many Soldiers that conduct missions in this area say that the need for this bridge is evident.
"I do a lot of traveling on this road, and it really concerns me to see small kids run across this road," said Sgt. Reginald Chretien, a team leader with the Military Police platoon, Headquarters Company, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, from Beaumont, Texas. "There are vendors on the sides of the road, and it attracts a lot of people walking across this busy road, and there is a school right there."
(Spc. Luisito Brooks serves with the 4th SBCT PAO, 2nd Inf. Div., USD-C.)