BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Bechtel today announced the opening of the south span of the Al Mat Bridge, a key transportation link in Iraq approximately 300 km (186 miles) west of Baghdad and 180 km (112 miles) from the Jordanian border. The four-lane Al Mat bridge is located on Highway 10, which carries over 3,000 trucks daily, bringing humanitarian aid and goods to Baghdad and other Iraqi cities from Jordan. Both bridge spans suffered extensive damage during the conflict and have been closed since early 2003. To accommodate traffic on this vital route, Bechtel constructed a bypass around the damaged bridge, which opened in July 2003. Opening of the south span to two-way traffic has eliminated the need for this bypass. As part of its contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Bechtel subcontracted the Al Mat work to Al Qarya Company, an Iraqi construction firm. Al Qarya employed 40 field personnel at the peak of repairs, and worked under Bechtel supervision to complete the 6-month reconstruction project. The subcontractor demolished the unusable section of the bridge and reconstructed the downed span with precast prestressed beams and a composite bridge deck. Al Qarya purchased the prestressed beams from an Iraqi fabricator, Dijla Prestressing, in Baghdad. Al Qarya also repaired concrete columns and beams that were damaged during the conflict, and replaced or repaired all damaged handrails and lighting. "Al Qarya did a great job and effectively met the reconstruction challenges the damaged bridge presented," said Ron Ramsay, Bechtel's project manager for Iraq bridges. "This was an especially rewarding project because it directly benefits the Iraqi people, and the work was performed by Iraqi firms." Completion of the north span of the bridge is expected in March. In support of the Coalition Provisional Authority's reconstruction effort in Iraq, Bechtel is under contract with USAID for the repair, rehabilitation, or reconstruction of vital elements of Iraq's infrastructure. This effort runs through 2005 and includes the repair and renovation of port facilities, power stations, telecommunications, water systems, rail, bridges, buildings, and airports. 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.