After months of vicious warfare however, there is only one way for residents to cross. The Iraqi generals call it “Victory Bridge”, but this single-lane, floating structure looks a little less grand.
Nonetheless, it serves a vital purpose and we watched as the residents of West Mosul – or the “right side” as they call it – made their way home to survey the damage or begin the process of cleaning up.
No one we spoke to was very happy about what they had seen.
I asked one man: “Is your family house still there?”
He replied: “It is in bad condition, IS fighters were living inside. I’ll try to rebuild, if God allows.”
Another softly spoken man called Abdhakim Abullah Mustafa said: “The house in front (of us) was bombed. The shrapnel flew into our house and killed my wife and injured my son. Our home is badly damaged.”
He unfolded a picture of a body in a canoe and told me he had paddled his wife to the morgue.
“My children are in a bad psychological condition,” he said.
“You know, their mother died in front of them. They can’t eat and they get agitated at night and shout and cry.”
There is one place in West Mosul where residents – and journalists – cannot venture. It is the historic centre – the old city – which was, until recently, home to 230,000 people.
But Sky News gained access, passing through the outer checkpoint into a world of total destruction.
Burnt-out cars and military Jeeps stood at strange angles, buildings were separated from their walls, and stone and steel clogged the alleyways.
This war-ravaged area was the scene of the final battle in Mosul between the Iraqi security services and hardened militants from IS, and the fighting has been described as some of the toughest since World War Two.
Victory was declared by the Iraqi Prime Minister three weeks ago – although there may be some militants still hiding here. Nonetheless, it seemed deserted as we drove through.
We stopped at the al Nouri mosque where IS proclaimed their caliphate, but there is not much left to see.
When Iraqi soldiers drew closer in June, these so-called holy warriors tried to level it in an extraordinary act of spite.
We glimpsed the mosque’s mint-green dome – now daubed with graffiti. “F*** ISIS” it said in English and Arabic.
The ancient Hadba minaret has been reduced to a stump – but we were only able to get a few shots before the police turned up and threatened to arrest us.
Few people have spent time in these ruins but Lise Grande, the head of the UN’s humanitarian operations in Iraq, is one of them.
She said: “Basically those districts (in the old city) are unliveable, they are completely destroyed.
“We had initially hoped that we would be able to stabilise those districts and allow people to return but in the old city, speaking honestly, that is not possible.”
Ms Grande says it will take a massive international operation to rebuild it. However, there is more hope for surrounding districts.
She added: “Some 700,000 live in the moderately damaged areas and our expectation is that those areas can be brought back to life – that means re-establishing the water system, sewage, electricity and helping to repair houses so families can get back relatively soon.”
It is a critical task and those currently living in West Mosul with no amenities – the people of the rubble – are clearly suffering.
We met a group of people from the Zanjili area and they told us mines, booby traps and rotting corpses have become a part of their lives.
“Have you ever seen people live in such houses like this?” asked Karam Talal Ibrahim.
“Nobody can. There are dead bodies inside and the smell is terrible. At least (the government) should come and move all this rubbish.”
Bewildered residents told me that they had not seen a single technician or clean-up crew from the local government, adding that IS was expelled from Zanjili two months ago.
But these are the battles that must won.
Frustrated and jobless residents from Mosul provided IS and their predecessors from al Qaeda with foot soldiers and commanders – and they will heed the call of the next extremist outfit if the Iraqi government and its international partners are unable to rebuild this river city and its badly damaged social fabric.