The Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army (Installations, Energy and Environment), Rachel Jacobson, visited the installation to get a first-hand look at several open infrastructure projects and challenges June 14-16.
Since her April 4 confirmation, Jacobson has been visiting Army installations and getting involved in hot topics ranging from renewable energy to Army housing.
“It’s hard to appreciate that when you’re sitting back at the Pentagon, reading about it, hearing about it, but it’s another thing to see it, witness it and talk to the people who are experiencing it,” Jacobson said during her recent visit to Fort Hood, Texas.
As the Army’s premier power projections platform on the east coast, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield infrastructure plays an integral role in the Army’s ability to train, mobilize and deploy. Therefore, the installation’s Directorate of Public Works took this time to outline those issues that ultimately affect mission readiness.
“We were showing her our biggest challenges, which are the barracks on Fort Stewart and hangars on Hunter Army Airfield, as far as replacing infrastructure and increasing capacity,” said Kyle Wemett, DPW chief of the Planning & Engineering Division.
According to Wemett, there are approximately 2200 barrack spaces on Fort Stewart that were built in the 1970s. Those barracks do not meet the current Army standards for amenities and space. Specifically, the new Army standard requires there be a common living space shared between two barracks rooms that has a washer, dryer, kitchenette, full sized refrigerator and shared bathroom.
At Hunter Army Airfield, the main issue discussed was the aging hangars, which can no longer properly support modern rotary wing aircraft.
“The majority of our current hangars, especially with the combat aviation brigade, were built in the 1940s and 1950s for fixed wing aircraft,” Wemett said. “While they might have the space, the facilities do no support modern rotary wing aircraft. It’s very difficult for them to maintain the aircrafts in facilities that were designed 80 years ago.”
In order to accomplish the mission with current infrastructure, Wemett says that Soldiers are forced to use their deployable equipment such as containerized maintenance spaces and mobile lifts.
Working with a limited budget, the installation is focusing on the highest priority issues first, which cover anything that affects mission readiness and deployment of Soldiers.
“I believe she did get a good grasp on our local problems and how they are prioritized at the Army level,” Wemmet said. “She is one of the managers of the infrastructure funding program, so all the facilities on the installation fall under this. Ultimately, she is one of the co-chairs that controls the funding for the majority of the facilities on the installation, so being able to properly communicate our challenges and how it affects the mission will help influence funding in the future.”
Here is a look at several current and future projects:
Tide Gate Repairs
In early 2022, repairs began on the Hunter Army Airfield tide gate to re-establish the storm water storage capacity, to provide a more adequate physical barrier to prevent watercraft from entering the area and to protect the remnants of the historic earthen berm and wooden bridge. The total project cost is $1.8 million and should be completed summer 2022.
Airfield Infrastructure Repairs
Projected for completion by 2025, approximately $45 million is being invested into repairing the Hunter Army Airfield, flight line pavement. This project will be completed in phases to minimize the impact on regular operations.
The existing runway will be upgraded to meet modern standards, increasing the depth of asphalt and adding a runway shoulder. Full depth repairs will be made on taxiway shoulders and sections with cracks, spalling or breakage will either be repaired or replaced. Additionally, storm water systems under the pavement will be cleaned and repaired, or in some cases, replaced.
Projected for completion by 2024, the project is expected to cost approximately $62 million. The new 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade aircraft maintenance hangar will be 119,500 square feet. The facility will have enough space to support the maintenance of six UH-60 helicopters and will include space for operations, storage, helicopter washing, parking and more.
Projected for completion in early 2023, repairs are projected to cost $15.1 million. These repairs will consist of replacing damaged portions, correcting gauging deficiencies, replacement or repair of non-functional switches, correcting curve geometry and repair of any structural deficiencies. After receiving repairs, the railroad will also receive annual maintenance, which includes the requirement of having tracks resurfaced. The cost of maintenance is projected to cost between $300,000 - $500,000 annually.