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NEWS | July 10, 2018

961st Engineer Company combats rain with drainage in Romania

By Sgt. 1st Class Kimberly Calkins 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

U.S. Army and Romanian Land Forces engineers began drainage improvements on an existing road as part of a construction project in support of Resolute Castle 2018 at the Joint National Training Center, Cincu, Romania, July 6, 2018. 

The road, called “Mad Road” by the 10th Engineer Battalion, Romanian Land Forces and affectionately called “Alabama Road” by various U.S. engineer Soldiers over the past four years, continues to be in a state of construction. It was first created as a one-lane tank trail but now the goal is to widen the road to 9.8 meters across for two-lane traffic, which will allow for better maneuverability for units training at the JNTC. They are also improving the drainage system, which recently caused the road to be inaccessible.

After three weeks of torrential rain in June, the road was said to look like a river. The composition of the road consisted of a high amount of clay and could not handle the heavy rain at once because the water just flowed on top of the clay.

“When you build roads, you have to start with drainage,” said Lt. Col. Ryan E. Thompson, the commander of the 863rd Engineer Battalion, 372nd Engineer Brigade, Darien, Illinois. “Our engineers have done a tremendous job improving the drainage.

To reduce the effects of the rainfall on Mad Road, the 961st Engineer Company, Ada, Ohio, are currently concentrating on the first and second sections of the three sectioned 2-kilometers-long curvy, gravel road, during the fourth engineer rotation of RC18.

“The first section, from the top of the hill to the access road above, is up to subgrade level and we are ready to start pouring stone,” said 1st Lt. Taiwo Odewade, the company commander of 961st EN Co. “The drainage ditches are complete.”

The second section of the road is being brought up to grade and the drainage ditches are being excavated. This part of the project has been a collaboration between the Romanian engineers and the 961st EN Co. 

“The Romanians we have worked with are good equipment operators,” said Odewade. “They are eager to learn, working four hours straight before needing a rest.”

The Romanian engineers are currently using an excavator to dig the “V” ditches and to grade the berm from the edge of the ditch so the berm doesn’t fall back into the ditch during future rain storms.

“We are using the excavator because the clay is so dense and heavy that we cannot use a D8 dozer,” said Odewade. “It is a slower process, but we should be finished with one side of section two ditches today.” 

If time permits, a secondary project for section two of Mad Road will include channeling the water that runs down from the top of the hillside away from the road by building a retention pond. This will also provide a watering hole for the sheep and cattle, which graze freely in the area. 

“The biggest thing is that everyone is engaged in this project,” said Odewade. “The Romanians are always asking for work, too.”

The final section of the Mad Road construction for the 961st EN CO will include sloping the road with a 3-percent grade. The section of road will be widened during future rotations.

“This is a good exercise for my Soldiers since many of them are younger,” said Odewade. “We don’t have these kinds of projects during annual training, so this is good training.”

The 961st EN Co will constantly monitor the weather and hope for clear skies as they continue to widen and improve Mad Road during the last half of their Resolute Castle 18 three-week rotation.

“They all have good motivation and good attitudes,” said Thompson of the U.S. and Romanian Soldiers. “All with a powerful work ethic.”