By Alicia Embrey
Special to American Forces Press Service
Sept. 8, 2008 - A $6.5 million project south of Baghdad shows the Iraqi government's commitment to improving people's lives in poorer areas that were ignored by the former regime, Iraq's vice president said at the Aug. 28 dedication ceremony for a new bridge that links the sister cities of Kufa and Najaf. "Projects such as the new Imam Ali Bridge will help generate economic improvement," Adil Abdal-Mahdi said. Included in the project are sidewalks, railings and approach lighting systems, along with a paved area on each side of the bridge for fire truck access to the river.
The bridge will provide safe and reliable access across the Euphrates River, a vital component for commerce and transportation in that region, said Dr. Ameer, the Iraqi deputy resident engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division.
"Local residents are very appreciative," he said. "The 350-meter multi-span concrete bridge replaces a pontoon bridge and should help alleviate some of the traffic jams, especially during the religious season."
Imam Ali shrine in Najaf and the Kufa mosque are two of Shiite Islam's holiest sites. During the religious season, the new bridge now allows pilgrims and general traffic to bypass the congested market area in downtown Kufa. "This bridge is a great addition to the area," Abdal-Mahd said.
(Alicia Embrey works in Iraq with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division's South District Public Affairs Office.)