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By Spc. Chris McCann
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Soldiers from V Corps' 502nd Multi-Role Bridging Company

rebuilt a bridge south of Baghdad during a nighttime mission May 11.

Working at night to avoid the worst of

the Iraqi heat and the heaviest traffic

times, engineer Soldiers from the

Hanau, Germany-based company

replaced steel decks and ramps on the

heavily used "Mabey-Johnson" type

Engineers Staff Sgt. David Rojas (left) and Pfc. Jose Canales bridge.
of V Corps' 502nd Multi-Role Bridging Company help to guide
sheets of steel bridge decking onto a pile during a nighttime
bridge renovation project south of Baghdad, Iraq May 11.
The original concrete bridge forming

the southbound lane of the highway was blown up by a car bomb in 2004. The

replacement Mabey-Johnson bridge made of steel was put up to keep traffic flowing

on the main highway. But the replacement, heavily used by both civilian and

military vehicles, was suffering. Its bolts were rusting into place, its steel beginning

to bend under the weight of heavy loads.

The 502nd replaced all the decking -- huge squares of stamped steel -- and the

ramps at both ends of the raised bridge. Many of the damaged bolts had to be cut

away with torches.

"The deck comes in sections," said Sgt. 1st Class Shade Munday, a platoon sergeant

with the 502nd, during the 10-hour operation. "We've been planning this operation

for about a week. It will make the bridge a lot stronger, and it will allow for two-way

traffic, instead of just one-way."

The timing of the mission was important, explained Sgt. Stacie Notz of the 502nd.

"We're doing it at night because there's less traffic, and it's easier for the Soldiers to

avoid heat exhaustion," she said.

The company is currently permanently assigned to V Corps' 130th Engineer Brigade,

but will move under the banner of the corps' 18th Engineer Brigade May 16, as the

130th heads to a new assignment in Hawaii as part of U.S. Army Pacific. During its

current deployment in Iraq the company is attached to the 411th Engineer Brigade,

an Army Reserve unit based in Windsor, New York.

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Harrison, commander of the Fort Drum, N.Y.-based 2nd Brigade

Special Troops Battalion, 10th Mountain Division -- which includes the brigade's

engineer company -- visited the 502nd as they worked.

"The bridge was meant to stay in place awhile, but it's on a main supply route. It's

used by a lot of civilian traffic as well, and there was damage occurring," Harrison

The colonel said a plan is in motion to rebuild the original bridge.

"We're going to kick that off in a few weeks," Harrison said.

"It will take several weeks because it's a standard concrete bridge, just like you'd

see in the United States."

Until then, he added, the Mabey-Johnson will remain in service, thanks to the

engineers' late-night efforts.

"The repairs the 502nd made will keep it operational until it's no longer needed,"

Harrison said.