(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The Garrison in 2014 had a year of continued posturing for future growth.

But of course this meant trying to keep the financial books balanced during the government-wide constraints on resources. This challenge is expected to continue into 2015 for Garrison commander Col. Bill Marks and his directors.

"I've often said Redstone Arsenal is the best Army installation on the planet. I sincerely mean that," he said. "I'm confident the Team Redstone leadership and workforce will meet our goals of protecting current assets and operations, facilitating future growth and improving the transportation infrastructure."

Assets and operations

The ongoing efforts to reduce cost and maximize output entails focusing on gaining effectiveness and efficiency throughout the Garrison. This includes consolidating organizations into single buildings/campuses, reducing and eliminating off-post leases, identifying and honoring required adjacencies, and reducing multi-tenant facilities.

In September 2011, the Garrison began a massive program of administrative space consolidation. This multiyear effort requires the movement of approximately 24 percent of the Team Redstone workforce. It will eliminate $3.8 million in off-post leases -- so far, the annual reduction has amounted to $1.5 million. The Garrison has completed 40 percent of a $50 million project for on-post facility revitalization. The administrative space consolidation effort is expected to be finished by early fiscal 2017.

Delivering future growth

Most of Redstone's real property master plan was completed by May. This includes four of five Army required documents:

• Vision Plan -- Identifies Redstone's mission, vision, goals and objectives and includes the installation's history, organizations, demographics and community setting.

• Long Range Component -- Provides a graphical depiction of the installation today and what it can be in the future.

• Capital Investment Strategy -- Identifies and provides strategies for current and future capital improvement projects to support the long range plan.

• Master Plan Digest -- Provides an executive summary of the entire master plan.

Efforts continue to complete the master plan's long-range component.

The current document includes completed area development plans on three of 15 designated areas: the airfield, city center and Huntsville Spring Branch.

The ongoing Goss Road development plan includes residential district and quality of life areas on the northern portion of Redstone Arsenal; and integrating plans with local community and adjacent activities. A community engagement meeting was held June 20.

The proposed Martin Road development plan includes five designated areas, encompassing 3,000 acres along Martin Road, forming the central corridor of administrative and research and development facilities.

An installation design guide, under development, is 40 percent complete. This defines Redstone's requirements for development to include zoning and building codes.

The consolidation of ongoing efforts into the approved Redstone Arsenal master plan is targeted for July 2015.

Improving transportation infrastructure

The Garrison wants to facilitate safe, effective and efficient traffic flow on and off Redstone Arsenal. Efforts are ongoing to mitigate traffic issues in the surrounding community.

Regional solutions include the following:

• Improve access to and through Gate 7 to reduce traffic at Gate 9 by moving and expanding Gate 7 (already completed), expanding Martin Road to four lanes divided (ongoing), and supporting the local community with expansion of Zierdt Road and Martin/James Record roads.

• Make improvements within the Interstate 565 intersection to allow for greater traffic volume. Contract efforts are proceeding through the city of Huntsville to make this happen by September 2015.

• In September a project was completed to relocate Goss Road south to remove traffic safety issues.

• Move the existing Gate 9, on Rideout Road, approximately 4,000 feet south. If federal appropriated funds are utilized, gate construction is expected to cost about $30 million. However, Military Construction-Army competition for scarce funds drastically reduces the chance for funding. If other funds are used, the cost is expected to be about $8.5 million.

"Team Redstone is blessed to have the Army's best and brightest workforce," Marks said. "I am confident that this team will meet the challenges of 2015 and beyond."

Highlights from year

In September the Garrison said goodbye to its retiring senior enlisted Soldier, Raymond Crump, and welcomed his successor, Command Sgt. Maj. Bob Lehtonen. Crump retired after 31 years of military service.

Team Redstone and the Garrison re-enforced its commitment to emergency preparation with disaster exercises such as active shooter and Ebola response.

Community events included tributes to veterans and wounded warriors, numerous education outreach activities and participation in wellness promotion.

The Garrison assured security at the gates and introduced a plan for handheld scanners.

On Nov. 18, the School Age Center was notified that it received an expedited accreditation based on no findings from the Council on Accreditation.

The Army Substance Abuse Program provided the following training during fiscal 2014: Substance and Alcohol Abuse, Violence in the Workplace, Ask Care Escort Suicide Prevention, Ask Care Escort Suicide Intervention, Stress Management, Grief Briefings, and Team Building Sessions. Redstone was selected as the host installation for this region's Ask Care Escort Suicide Intervention Train the Trainer Workshop. Some 16,408 civilians received Substance Abuse Prevention and Awareness training at Redstone in fiscal 2014.

As part of the 101 Critical Days of Summer Safety Campaign, the Army Substance Abuse Program brought the Save a Life Tour which focuses on the dangers of driving distracted whether you are under the influence of a substance or texting and driving.

In April and September, the Army Substance Abuse Program, along with Fox Army Health Center and the Directorate of Emergency Services, gave the Redstone community an opportunity to prevent medication abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous, expired, unused, unwanted prescription drugs and provided a safe disposal site for medical waste. This effort collected 335 pounds at this year's Prescription Take Back events.