Thomas J. Basile
Office of Strategic Communications
AFTER 30 YEARS, A NEW BRIDGE REUNITES TWO BAGHDAD COMMUNITIES
Baghdad, Iraq…August 24, 2003—After 30 years of broken promises, two Baghdad communities have been reunited thanks to the joint efforts of the Coalition and local residents. Today, the Coalition Provisional Authority is pleased to announce the opening of a new bridge joining Gazeliyah and Al-Shula.
Twenty five years ago, the Iraqi government built a canal separating the neighboring Sunni and Shia communities. For decades residents petitioned the government to build a bridge traversing the canal, but to no avail.
In June, the Neighborhood Advisory Councils from Gazeliyah and Al-Shula asked the City and the Coalition for assistance in completing the long overdue project. Neighborhood Advisory Councils have been established in each of Baghdad’s 88 communities since the fall of the former regime to assist the municipal government in identifying issues of importance to local residents.
“This bridge is just a small example of the community coming together,” said Lieutenant Colonel Eric W. Nantz, Battalion Commander of the 1-325 Airborne Infantry Regiment. “In the past this type of cooperation would never happen. Iraqis are now making decisions to ensure a better life for themselves and their children,” The 1-325 Airborne helped coordinate the procurement of materials and acquire funding.
The project was headed by Basil Tawfik, a local Iraqi engineer who employed 40 people to construct the bridge with the US Army 1 AD 3rd Brigade’s discretionary funds. With Iraqi and Coalition engineers working side by side, construction took only a month. The total cost for the bridge was just under $21,000 and was funded by the 1 AD. The new bridge can accommodate two lanes of traffic and two pedestrian walkways.
“When the Coalition first got here we talked to them about importance of this bridge to both communities,” said Mr. Tawfik. “We are grateful for all the help we’ve received to make us one community again.”
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