"There's only one first," said Cliff Mumm, program director for Bechtel´s project team, "it's a milestone for our program, and it´s gratifying that an Iraqi company did the design and construction on this work," he added.
The Al Mat Bridge, damaged in the recent conflict, provides a key link on Highway 10, which carries over 3,000 trucks daily, bringing humanitarian aid and goods to Baghdad and other Iraqi cities from Jordan.
Al-Bunnia, which employed about 50 of the company's engineers and field employees, worked under the supervision of Bechtel managers to complete the approximately 3 km long bypass.
Now that the bypass is completed, the original Al Mat Bridge will be reconstructed, a project estimated to take about six months.
"We not only got the bypass completed in less than a month," Mumm pointed out, "but we also worked with Al-Bunnia to jointly develop a first-of-a-kind safety plan and procedures for the project." The plan included use of safety signs in both Arabic and English, and mandatory use on site of hard hats, work boots, gloves, and safety glasses.
Work on another early infrastructure project for Bechtel, the Port of Umm Qasr, is continuing. The port opened to commercial traffic on June 16, but work continues to dredge the port's deep-water basin, remove unexploded ordnance and sunken vessels and repair vital power supply to port. Two Iraqi firms, the Al-Ebadi Group and Al-Dohan, are supplying labor and equipment and technical support at the Port of Umm Qasr.
Bechtel was awarded an emergency infrastructure repair and rehabilitation contract April 17 by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The $680 million agreement calls for the repair, rehabilitation or reconstruction of vital elements of Iraq's infrastructure. This includes assessment and repair of power generation facilities, electrical grids, municipal water systems and sewage systems. There is also a provision in the contract for rehabilitation or repair of airport facilities and the dredging, repair, and upgrading of the Umm Qasr Seaport, in close cooperation with other USAID contractors working in those sectors.
The contract also addresses the responsibility for repairing and reconstruction of schools, hospitals, selected ministry buildings, and major irrigation structures.
Bechtel is one of the world's premier engineering-construction organizations. It provides technical, management, and directly-related services to develop, finance, build, and operate installations for customers in a wide range of industries. To date, Bechtel has worked on more than 20,000 projects in 140 countries on all seven continents.