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    Delivering quality training facilities to National Guard and Reserves

    Delivering quality training facilities to National Guard and Reserves

    Photo By Andrew Stamer | Col. Charles Samaris (far left), commander and district engineer, U.S. Army Corps of...... read more read more



    Story by AnnMarie Harvie 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District

    CONCORD, N.J. -- Members of the New England District team have been busy this fall cutting ribbons on five new facilities for the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves throughout New England. The customer for all five projects is the 99th Air Reserve Center, headquartered at Fort Dix, N.J.

    Under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Program, some U.S. Military facilities were consolidated and closed. The program also called for new facilities to be built as part of that consolidation, such as the five facilities the District recently completed.

    Ribbon cutting events were held for facilities in Ayer, Mass., Newport, R.I., Middletown, Conn., and Rutland and White River Junction, Vt. “This was the biggest military construction program we’ve had,” said Sean Dolan, Chief of Construction. “Combined, the projects were about $176 million.”

    The New England District worked closely with the Louisville District which is the National Program Manager for the Corps of Engineers’ BRAC Reserve Program. All five facilities were design build contracts and all had a completion deadline of Sept. 15, which was mandated by Congress in the BRAC legislation. The projects varied in size -- the largest in Ayer at about $77.4 million (currently the largest project of this type in the Nation) to the smallest in Newport at about $12 million – and most had varying degrees of challenges, but all were completed in time.

    The Ayer project consisted of constructing an Armed Forces Reserve Center that included the center itself, a vehicle maintenance shop, regional training facility, organizational maintenance shop, multi-use classroom and unit storage. The project also required demolishing two existing buildings. “Work included paving, fencing, site improvements and utilities infrastructure,” said Resident Engineer Jim Conway.

    A project of this size didn’t come without sizable challenges. “Phasing was a major challenge,” said Conway. “The contract required certain buildings to be demolished in order for the new consolidated maintenance shop to be built.”

    Another challenge was that part of the facility is located on state property, so different sets of building codes applied to that construction. According to Conway keeping communications and good relationship with all parties was a lot of work, but the extra efforts on the part of all parties resulted in a state-of-the-art facility.

    In addition, one of the buildings set for demolition was so enormous it was the largest Department of Defense facility before the Pentagon was constructed; the other building set for demolition was not destroyed at the customer’s request, which resulted in rewiring the building to upgrade the power distribution system.

    Despite roadblocks, the New England District team cut the ribbon on the facility, Nov. 5.

    Work on the $54 million AFRC in Middletown included the construction of a five-story facility, vehicle maintenance stop and an unheated storage building. This project is currently the third largest of its kind in the nation, according to Dolan. Among the many features in the facility are classrooms, full kitchen, library and fitness areas. This impressive facility also had some impressive environmental attributes. According to Jeff Perchak, Lead Civil Engineer for the project, this is the first AFRC in the United States that went partially green with a roofing system that has vegetated roofing materials over the main assemble hall. The plants will help reduce storm water runoff by absorbing more storm water than a metal or shingled roof would.

    Other environmentally friendly features include solar hot water heating systems and photovoltaic panels that will produce 40 kilowatts of electricity and retention ponds and other water features that make a first class water management system. Ironically, the environmentally friendly Middletown project’s challenges included wetlands and habitat issues that included protecting the Eastern Box Turtle, a Connecticut species of concern.

    According to Perchak, the District Team hired a turtle specialist and trained canine to locate the turtles so we could relocate them out of harm’s way.

    The New England District team was also challenged with the removal of over 425,000 cubic yards of soil from the site to prepare it for construction. “That’s about 21,000 dump truck loads,” explained Dolan.

    The bigger the obstacle, the more determined the team was to overcome it. “With all these challenges, the construction duration was compressed to a mere 14 months for the facility and its related buildings to be completed,” said Perchak.

    The ceremony to officially open the facility was held Dec. 10.

    The $16.7 million facility at White River Junction had no significant construction challenges according to project engineer Dave O’Connor, but the District’s Real Estate Division did much coordination prior to shovels hitting the ground. “Real Estate had an important role prior to construction in the acquisition of the property,” said O’Connor.

    Site work for this project began in March 2010 and was completed in July 2011. This project’s ribbon cutting event took place Nov. 21.

    The AFRC project in Rutland included a facility with a multi-use classroom, organizational maintenance shop and unheated storage building.

    Immediate challenges with real estate acquisition threatened to prevent finishing the $17.4 million project in time, but the New England District Team and contractor J&J Construction were able to work through them. “The issue set the contractor back about three weeks and it was important for them to begin before winter set in,” said Conway, who was also the construction manager for this project. “In the end the contractor was able to adapt and make up the time.”

    Encountering additional ledge on the site also posed a problem. “A large modification was processed to blast a significant amount of additional ledge to allow for foundation and underground utility installations,” said Conway.

    This particular project was completed just in time for immediate use. “We turned over the facility just days before Hurricane Irene hit,” said Conway. “Vermont was significantly impacted by the storm, but the facility sustained no damage. Days after the storm hit, the facility housed hundreds of National Guardsman from all over the country who came to respond to the hurricane event. We are very proud of that facility.”

    Ribbon cutting ceremonies for this facility were held on Nov. 21.

    The $14 million Newport AFRC was built on the Newport Naval Station. “Primary facilities include an AFRC training building, an Organizational Maintenance Shop, an unheated storage building, and organizational parking,” said Project Engineer Edward Frazetta.

    Though the smallest project of the group, the issues the District team had to face to get the facility completed in time were not. “The local gas utility provider delayed installing the natural gas service to the buildings for eight months forcing the contractor to push back mechanical completion and commissioning,” said Frazetta.

    Issues with the type of card entry system required, maintenance contracts, and qualified elevator inspectors also attempted to hamper the project. Despite the challenges, the Newport facility was completed on time and was officially opened, Nov. 5.

    With these projects completed, the New England District team is now focusing on completing the rehabilitation on existing AFRCs in Cranston, R.I., and Brockton, Mass. Future construction will take place on Pease Air Reserve Center in New Hampshire (awarded at $6 million); Danbury, Conn. (awarded at $34 million); and two not yet awarded in Attleboro, Mass., and Bridgeport, Conn.



    Date Taken: 01.03.2012
    Date Posted: 01.03.2012 12:34
    Story ID: 81996
    Location: CONCORD, MA, US

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