FORT KNOX, Ky. — An old tank advanced driver’s course ford site has found a new use at Fort Knox.The stretch of sloping concrete road surrounded by converted connex buildings that are all part of an urban training site has been transformed into a body of water for Soldiers from 19th Engineer Battalion to conduct maintenance checks on their bridge erection boats.“It was meant to make you feel like you’re driving in a tank ditch, and you’re running through about 2-1/2 feet of water,” said Mark Sweetman, a Fort Knox Range Branch work leader with the Urban Section. “We modified it to do what they needed it to do — to raise the water.”Leaders from 19th Engineer’s 502nd Multi-Role Bridge Company approached officials from Urban Section at Range Operations last month to help them find a solution to issues they ran into with conducting maintenance checks on their boats.Prior to using the tank ditch, Soldiers would have to conduct what they call PMCS, or preventive maintenance checks and services, either on the Salt River or Pilcher Landing on the Ohio. The PMCS involved a lot of time, money and paperwork, which made conducting quarterly maintenance difficult.“It takes three days to get an off-post dispatch; you have possible pollution and the cost of getting it done,” said Sweetman.When officials at the Urban Section were asked about a better solution, they suggested the tank ditch. Rodney Manson, Fort Knox Range Management officer, said they hadn’t used the fording capability in over 15 years.“This is just a five-minute drive across post [for 502nd],” said Sweetman. “They drop the boat in the water, test it, and they’re done.”However, they needed to find a way to fill the ditch beyond 2.5-feet of water, up to a 5-foot depth.The tank ditch was designed in the 1980s to be filled with water only at the 2.5-feet height. When it reaches that point, a float shuts off the flow of water; like how a float in the tank of a toilet operates. A secondary safety measure ensures water doesn’t go beyond the mark — a 1-foot hole in the side of the well where the float is located that acts as an overflow valve.Sweetman said the solution proved quick and easy.“We had to bypass both of those to get the ditch up to the 5-feet mark,” said Sweetman. “Now, we just simply tie off the float and plug the overflow hole. And luckily, we don’t need a safety bypass because the ditch is exactly 5 feet deep.“The safety now is that water will just pour out the ends.”The ditch takes about four hours to fill. When the engineers are done with their maintenance checks, the ditch can then be converted back into its original use by untying the float and removing the plug.Sweetman said the Urban Section is accustomed to converting all the ranges to fit a specific need.“In the Urban Section, we’re always modifying. That’s our job is to modify stuff to change,” said Sweetman. “If it was a tank range, now it’s an aerial range. We have to keep up with the times; stay relevant.”Soldiers from 502nd praised the Urban Section with providing them a capability that saves not only countless hours of paperwork, it also saves them man hours.“Instead of having to bring 10 people, I only have to bring three or four, depending on what we bring out here to test,” said Sgt. 1st Class Travis Stelton, platoon sergeant of 1st Plt., 502nd. “Getting the boats out here instead of having to go to the Ohio or hoping that the Salt is high enough for us to actually get into is excellent.”Throughout the last week of May, members of 502nd backed in with their boats in tow, dropped the boats into the water, conducted oil tests and other checks on the boat, picked their boats back up out the water, and drove back to their unit within an hour or two. Sweetman and range technician Josh Poynter watched as the Soldiers worked.“When they bring the boat up, you say, ‘Wow, that’s a big boat!’” said Sweetman. “But then when they drop the boat into the water, you say, ‘Wow, that’s a big ditch!”