By A. Al Bahrani
Special to American Forces Press Service
June 27, 2007 – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region South District's rehabilitation of the railway station here is part of the effort to build and develop Iraq's basic services and strategic infrastructure. "The $480,000 project provides a critical link for the country of Iraq and it ties the southern portion of the country with the northern portion," said Thomas Edison, chief of engineering and construction for Gulf Region South.
"The Iraq railroad system provides efficient, reliable transportation, and many people rely on the railroad for traveling. It is also critical for trade and commerce from the deep-water marine port and business centers in southern Iraq to the population centers in northern Iraq," Edison said.
Stanley Dowdy, Basrah Area Office resident engineer, said the railroad station was unusable without renovation.
"The platforms for getting on and off the trains and the walkways were all torn up or removed, and the building structure itself was damaged and unsafe," he said. "This project installed all new platforms and walkways, as well as renovating portions of the interior and the exterior faÃ§ade.
"These improvements will greatly facilitate enhanced operations at this site," he added. "We applaud the Iraqi team with whom we have closely worked in making this challenge become a reality."
The Corps' mission for this project consists of performing onsite evaluations and rehabilitation work of seven railway stations throughout the Basrah province. "The goal of the project is to repair the stations and make them safe and efficient once again," Dowdy said.
"Now, as reconstruction is gaining momentum, the need for a transportation network to provide for efficient movement of essential products such as construction materials, equipment, merchandise, fuel and other supplies is essential for Iraq," said Hadi Mashkor, the directorate general for Basrah Railroad Station.
Mashkor said rebuilding the rail industry in Basrah is very important to Iraq's economy. Basrah is one of the oldest cities in Iraq and it is in the heart of the petroleum industry. It directly affects the Iraqi economy.
"Being able to transport goods and services is vital to a growing region and economy. The railroad system will continue to grow in serving the Iraqi people," Edison said.
(A. Al Bahrani is a public affairs specialist with Gulf Region South District, Gulf Region Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.)