Saturday, January 2, 2010

Why the surge in Afghanistan ? Part 3

Developing Afghanistan ’s infrastructure

(It’s about oil!)

Although the US infrastructure, our bridges, roads and dams, are old and in need, not only of repair but, a complete makeover, the Government has failed to establish a fund or to set any priority for these crumbling bridges and dams, or to rebuild “Katrina” ravaged New Orleans, Louisiana, an estimated price tag for New Orleans is about 100 billion dollars.

However, Afghanistan is a different story. With the fall of the Taliban and Osama Bin Alden’s death, which was known to have occurred on December 16, 2001, the United States began to develop Afghanistan ’s infrastructure in preparation for the Oil Pipe Line and an influx of American support personnel.

The American taxpayers have already invested much more than the cost to rebuild our own infrastructure in this one country, Afghanistan .

Roads, Bridges, railway systems and airports have been built or enlarged with American taxpayer assistance, including such projects as:
1. A new bridge to Tajikistan was completed in 2007.
2. Kabul-Kandahar Highway
3. Kabul-Jalalabad-Torkham Highway
4. Kabul-Gardez Highway
5. Kabul-Mazar Highway
6. Kandahar-Boldak Highway
7. Kandahar-Herat Highway
8. Herat-Islam Qala Highway
9. Herat-Mazar Highway

A road bridge linking Tajikistan and Afghanistan , which cost $37 million, was inaugurated in 2007. The bridge, nearly 700 metres long and 11 metres across, straddles the Panj river which forms a natural border between the two countries, between the ports of Nizhny Panj on the Tajik side and Shir Khan Bandar in Afghanistan. Delaram-Zaranj highway was constructed with Indian assistance and was completed in January 2009.

An upgrade of a10 kilometer long rail line which extends from Serhetabat in Turkmenistan to the town of Towraghondi in Afghanistan began in 2007.

A second 1,520 mm (4 ft 11+5⁄6 in) gauge line, extends for around 15 kilometers from Termez in Uzbekistan to Kheyrabad Port , crossing the Amu Darya on the road-rail Friendship Bridge . This line is currently being extended to Mazar-i-Sharif.

The nearest railhead in Iran is a 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge line which terminates at Mashhad .

This line is currently being extended 202 kilometers east to Herat . The Khaf, Iran-Herat railway project began in 2006 and was completed in the last months of 2008.

Pakistan border

Two broad gauge 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) lines from Pakistan terminate on the border at Chaman and the Khyber Pass. Various proposals exist to extend these lines on to Kandahar and Kabul respectively. Work is expected to begin in January 2010.

Other borders

There are currently no rail links to China or Tajikistan , though a connection to the latter was proposed in 2008, and is expected to begin around the middle of 2010.

Work progress in 2007

Construction in Iran has brought that system's lines close to the Afghan border at Khaf. Proposed extensions using 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) gauge would serve: Ghurian, Herat (933m), Meymaneh (877m), Sheberghan (250m), Hariatan - break of gauge link with Uzbekistan , Shir Khan Bandar (329m)

Opened up Afghan trade route to Iran

Proposed extension from Hairatan on the Uzbek border to Mazar-i-Sharif using a Soviet-built bridge over the Amudarya River .

Five year railway building project.


Not forgetting the real purpose of the war! There are petroleum pipelines from Bagram into Uzbekistan and Shindand into Turkmenistan . These pipelines have been is disrepair and disuse for years. There are 180 kilometers of natural gas pipelines. The $3 billion Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline proposal for a natural gas pipeline across Afghanistan into Pakistan is moving forward.

Ports and harbors are being upgraded

The chief inland waterway of land-locked Afghanistan is the Amu Darya River which forms part of Afghanistan 's northern border. The river handles barge traffic up to about 500 metric tons. The main river ports are located at Kheyrabad and Shair Khan .

Airports are being upgraded

There are 47 airports. Approximately 10 of these have paved runways. Of those, 3 have runways over 3000 meters, 4 have runways between 2500 and 3000 meters, 2 have runways between 1500 and 2500 meters, and 1 has a runway under 1000 meters. 37 have unpaved runways. Of those, 1 has a runway over 3000 meters, 7 have runways between 2500 and 3000 meters, 14 have runways between 1500 and 2500 meters, 4 have runways between 1000 and 1500 meters, and 11 have runways under 1000 meters.

Kabul International Airport (3500 m runway) is the nation's largest airport and the primary hub for international civilian flights.

Kandahar International Airport (3200 m runway) is a dual-use airport serving southern Afghanistan .

Mazari Sharif Airport (3100 m runway) is a dual-use airport serving the northern and central portions of the country.

Herat Airport (2600 m runway) is the primary civil airport for the western portion of the country.

Jalalabad Airport (1800 m runway)

Bagram Air Base is used by the US military and allied forces. It has heavy traffic, especially helicopters. It can also handle larger airliners such as Boeing 747s, C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III military cargo planes. KBR and some other companies fly into and out of Bagram on a regular basis.

Afghanistan government priorities include upgrading of Kabul Airport to international airport meeting ICAO standards and upgrading Herat , Mazari Sharif and Jalalabad airports to international standards.


We have developed at least five heliports.

In our incessant need for oil, we have placed our own population in harms way as bridges in need of repair or replacement continue to collapse at an alarming rate, examples follow:

On December15,1967 at approximately 5 p.m., the U.S. Highway 35 bridge connecting Point Pleasant , West Virginia and Kanauga , Ohio suddenly collapsed into the Ohio River . At the time of failure, thirty- seven vehicles were crossing the bridge span, and thirty-one of those automobiles fell with the bridge. Forty- six individuals perished with the buckling of the bridge and nine were seriously injured. Along with the numerous fatalities and injuries, a major transportation route connecting West Virginia and Ohio was destroyed, disrupting the lives of many and striking fear across the nation.

Shortly after the collapse of the highway 35 bridge, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a nation-wide probe to determine the safety of the nation's bridges.

In 1967 there were 1,800 bridges in the United States which were 40 years old including 1,100 highway bridges designed for Model-T traffic. Many federal officials feared that other structures, built around the some time to handle Model-T traffic, could face the same fate as the Silver Bridge . To date we have found no remedial work on any of these bridges, however sadly many have since this report collapsed with fatalities.

A list of the bridges and their collapse date follows, note some were in the later part of the 19th century, but most were in the 20th century, and many were after the Silver Bridge Collapse and the subsequent Federal report.

May 5, 1875; Portage Bridge
December 29, 1876; Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster
March 14, 1887; Bussey bridge
August 7, 1904; Eden Train Wreck
December 22, 1935; Appomatox River Drawbridge
January 27, 1938; Upper Steel Arch Bridge (also known as Honeymoon Bridge and Falls View Bridge )
November 7, 1940; Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Galloping Gertie)
July 28, 1942; Chesapeake City Bridge
December 15, 1967; Silver Bridge

Following is a list of Bridges that collapsed after the Federal Bridge Condition Report

November 7, 1972; Sidney Lanier Bridge
May 9, 1980; Sunshine Skyway Bridge
July 17, 1981; Hyatt Regency walkway collapse
January 13, 1982; 14th Street Bridge
June 28, 1983; Cline Avenue over the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal and surrounding heavy industry Mianus River Bridge
April 1, 1989; Schoharie Creek Bridge collapse Thruway Bridge Tennessee Hatchie River Bridge October 17, 1989; Cypress Street Viaduct
October 17, 1989; San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge
May 28, 1993; Claiborne Avenue Bridge
September 22, 1993; CSXT Big Bayou Canot rail bridge
December 13, 2000; Hoan Bridge
September 15, 2001; Queen Isabella Causeway
May 26, 2002; I-40 bridge disaster
March 26, 2003; Interstate 95 Howard Avenue Overpass
July 21, 2003; Kinzua Bridge
April 29, 2007; MacArthur Maze
August 1, 2007; Minneapolis I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River
August 15, 2007; Harp Road bridge
February 2004; Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Bridge replacement project
June 12, 2008; The Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway (CRANDIC) bridge
October 27, 2009; San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge

Which US Bridge will fall next?

We have money for nation building, and wars of choice, what about our own nation, are we expendable?