Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Rebuilding bridges

With many communities still receiving water by tanker, bridge building has been a vital operation. In Basra alone the REs are restoring four key bridge links, two spanning the 450m wide Shatt Al Arab ship canal.

The canal skirts the eastern edge of the city and is crossed in just two places with pontoon bridges, which were knocked out during the conflict.

Rebuilding the northernmost 'Cigar' bridge, so called because it sits at a point where the canal splits to form a cigar-shaped island, was completed in just two weeks at a remarkable cost of just US$90.

The Cigar bridge has long been recognised as a strategic crossing, and it bears the scars of two Gulf Wars to prove it. The eastern half of the original reinforced concrete bridge was destroyed by the Allies in the 1991 war and was replaced after the conflict with a 200m long Bailey style pontoon bridge. This was destroyed by US bombers ahead of the latest war.

A new replacement was immediately started by the Iraqi military but was destroyed by British troops when they seized Basra to protect against attack from the north.

The latest bridge is also a Bailey style pontoon structure, made entirely from parts salvaged from the previous two bridges and from further afield.

'The Scrapheap Challenge would be proud of this one - it's a real hodge-podge job, ' says troop commander second lieutenant Jennifer Evans, who project managed the construction. 'All we paid for was 50 specially made bulldog clips - everything else we acquired.'

But it works, and was constructed fast. In one week sections from 30m to 90m long were hurriedly assembled and floated downstream to the site. It then took a further week to connect the sections and secure the pontoons to the piers of the original concrete bridge and to four buoys.

Further downstream, a second pontoon bridge needed repair after it was struck by two ships cut loose by looters. Fortunately damage was minimal and only one pontoon needed replacing.

Rather more work was needed on the remaining two bridges which cross a tributary to the Shatt Al Arab in south Basra. Both had been blown up by the retreating Iraqi army, leaving the local community isolated.

One of the REs' General Purpose Bridges (GPB) was launched across the 56m wide channel to replace the completely destroyed upstream bridge. The modular bridge is transported on three vehicles.

The GPB will be replaced by a temporary Bailey bridge while repairs are carried out to the upstream bridge which is listing badly, with one side suspended by just the top chord of the truss.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs