CH-47 Chinooks sit on Fort Rucker's Knox Army Heliport flightline. Repaving airfields is one of the infrastructure improvements made possible by recent funding. (Photo Credit: Holly Sterling) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The Army and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command are making significant investments in Fort Rucker to make it an even better and safer place to live, work, train and play.

With $20 million already slated in the home of Army Aviation’s sustainment, restoration and modernization budget, TRADOC recently added another $20 million, according to Joseph Wyka, Fort Rucker Directorate of Public Works director.

“We’ve had the biggest award this year of construction projects that we’ve had in recent memory,” Wyka said, adding that essentially doubling the post’s budget makes for exciting times as far as construction goes at Fort Rucker. “We’re starting to see Army investment on a larger scale, which is great, and it’s important that we seize that opportunity and use that money in the best ways that we can.”

While the additional funds won’t result in new facilities or buildings being built, it will go to much-needed infrastructure improvements, he added.

“Like any Army installation, we have aging infrastructure,” Wyka said. “Some of our buildings date back to the 1960s and 70s, and even some buildings back to the 40s, so they require a constant investment. This investment brings many of these buildings up to current code and addresses life, health and safety issues. Overall, this investment will allow us to provide better support to ongoing training here.”

The investment will be used to improve heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in facilities; improve fire prevention and sprinkler systems; improve electrical systems redundancy; airfield repaving; and improve reliability across the footprint, he said.

“The allocation of the funds are aligned with the commanding general’s (Maj. Gen. David J. Francis, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general) direction for investment – what he sees as our most pressing needs across Fort Rucker,” Wyka added. “They also line up with independent Army assessments of our infrastructure – they dovetail very nicely.  We had a team that came down over the last year, an independent team of architects and engineers, and they inspected all of our facilities. Their findings were very much in line with what we observed as our needs: fire prevention systems, HVAC, plumbing and electric.

“What we’ve seen in some of our remote airfields, when they lose power or lose water from storms, they need that redundant infrastructure – generators for electricity and backup power for wells,” he said. “We want to have that in place, so they can continue to train. These projects this year and over the next several years are going to address that redundancy.”

The bulk of the work will be accomplished over the next 12-18 months, Wyka added. “Some of the longer term projects, like airfield pavement, might stretch into two years. People can expect to see a lot of work going on in the next 12-18 months.”

Along with the new SRM projects, work continues in on-post housing in the Allen Heights and Munson Heights neighborhoods, on the new East Beach Lake Lodge at Lake Tholocco, and the new Army Aviation Training Support Facility near the U.S. Army Aviation Museum, he said. In addition, Yano Hall is expected to get a new roof in November, and other work will be going on around post, such as road work and parking lot striping, just to name a few.

“It’s an exciting time at Fort Rucker – being able to double our construction program means better infrastructure for everyone to use,” Wyka said. “The Corps of Engineers Mobile District supports us, and they’ve indicated they’ll probably be hiring new personnel to keep up with the new projects. This is the biggest program they’ve seen here in at least a decade.”