‘Bees rolls out the gravel carpet in Djibouti

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr., CJTF-HOA Public Affairs

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Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Michael Clark, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 22, signals for a dump truck to continue releasing a trail of sand and gravel during road construction May 2, 2016, at Chebelley, Djibouti. The mixture of sand is added to gravel allowing for it to be compressed into a makeshift road. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr./160502-F-VH066-097)

Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCB) 22 and 133 completed a road construction project at Chebelley, Djibouti, May 2.

The two-month construction project included placing a mile-long road of gravel to provide a safer route for more than 300 military members and Djiboutian civilians who use the road each day.

“Chebelley Road was in pretty bad shape when we got here,” said Equipment Operator 1st Class Toledo Emanuel, project supervisor, from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 22. “We are just making it safe for the people who drive here. It’s a lot of movement on this road so we are fixing the grade of it.”

The stretch of road contained numerous potholes, large rocks and other obstacles that drivers had to maneuver around to travel the road.

Each day the battalion placed approximately 32 cubic meters of a gravel and sand mix along an 800-foot stretch, and then compressed it to three-quarters of an inch thick.

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Equipment Operator 3rd Class Collin Scheffer, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133, operates a grader to evenly spread gravel during a road construction project May 2, 2016, at Chebelley, Djibouti. During the project, Seabees created approximately 800 feet of road, working eight hours a day for two months. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr./160502-F-VH066-074)

“Once we receive the gravel we spread it with the grader,” Emanuel said. “Then we use the water truck to water and compact it with a roller. This process usually takes about two hours.”

Equipment Operator 1st Class Chris Harris said the process is repeated multiple times down the stretch of road throughout the eight to ten-hour workday creating a noisy, traffic congested and hot environment for the team.

“I’d say roughly a hundred plus vehicles come through here each day,” Harris said. “Also, it’s hot, dusty and loud.”

Emmanuel said with so many factors, safety is a big concern so they set-up cones and traffic signals, as well as provided plenty of water to combat the Djiboutian heat.

The project ended near the Chebelley gate, concluding the battalion’s efforts of improving the road conditions for those who frequently travel.

“This road here should last, with regular maintenance, at least a year,” said Harris. “The road is more travelable and is much more comfortable to drive on.”

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Equipment Operator 1st Class Chris Harris, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 22, steers a vibratory roller to compress a mixture of wet sand and gravel to form a makeshift road May 2, 2016, at Chebelley, Djibouti. The construction battalion created the road to provide a safer route for military and civilians to travel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr./160502-F-VH066-290)

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