Photo Information

Marines with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), drill holes into wooden planks as they build a bridge at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Dec. 21. The 8th ESB Marines built the bridge out of steel and wood, which will serve as a permanent replacement for a medium girder bridge in Marjah.

Photo by Cpl. Shannon E. McMillan

Marines build long-lasting bridge for Afghans, coalition forces in Marjah

21 Dec 2010 | Cpl. Shannon E. McMillan 1st Marine Logistics Group

Marines with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), fabricated a bridge here, Dec. 21, which will later be installed in Marjah and serve as a permanent replacement for a medium girder bridge.

The bridge is designed to last longer than typical medium girder bridges and will provide safe and efficient passage for Afghans and coalition forces.

“We have numerous medium girder bridges placed around Afghanistan, and we are trying to replace them with non-standard ones,” said Navy Lt. j.g Joshua A. Senecal, construction officer, S-3, Headquarters and Service Company, 8th ESB, 1st MLG (FWD). “This way we can provide passage in other areas.”

Medium girder bridges, like the one currently in place in Marjah, are constructed entirely of steel. The MGB is intended to be used as a temporary passage over rivers and gaps, and because they require a lot of maintenance the engineers replace them every few months.

“Because of the constant wear and tear on the [medium girder bridges] due to high traffic and weather conditions, we would replace them on a regular basis,” said Staff Sgt. David Marunowski, bridge platoon guide, Bravo Company, 8th ESB, 1st MLG (FWD). “This is a more permanent choice.”

It’s also a more permanent solution because it’s built into a canal, unlike medium girder bridges that are placed above a canal, explained Marunowski, 29, a native of Toldeo, Ohio.

The new bridge will be transported to Marjah on a combat logistics patrol in six pieces, not including concrete footers, and will be assembled on-site, added Marunowski.

The new bridge was prefabricated into sections of steel and wood, which will make it easier to maintain.

“The wood is being used because it’s sturdy, and over time when it needs to be replaced, it will be easy,” said Marunowski. “It’s easy to replace wooden planks instead of replacing an entire MGB.”

“The non-standard bridge will not only require less maintenance, but it will keep the Marines out of the line of fire,” added Sgt. Kenneth Cole, welder chief, 29, a native of Conneaut, Ohio.

The new bridge will be able to hold up to 118,000 pounds, said Senecal.

It will also save the Marine Corps money. The new bridge costs approximately $20,000, while an MGB costs approximately $920,000, said Senecal.

The Marines said the installation of a more permanent bridge will have a positive effect on the local Afghan community.

“[The Afghan locals] get really excited when we go in and start building the bridges,” said Marunowski. “They get excited because we are helping them out.”

The locals come up and talk with the Marines and some of them bring tea and food with them as a way to show gratitude, he said.

“It will be a while before work has to be done on this bridge,” he added. “It will be easier for the local villagers to maintain and conduct maintenance on the bridge, and that will be long after we are gone.”

The Marines worked countless hours to complete the bridge and are proud of the final result.

“They are pretty excited about the project because they were the first to be able to do it,” said Marunowski. “They know it will help out everyone in the long run.”

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