By Reginald Rogers, ParaglideAugust 24, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - A newly-built motor pool is seldom a cause for excitement for anyone other than the Soldiers who will maintain it. But the new facility that houses mechanical support personnel from the 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team is a step outside the norm.
The new 48,000 square-foot facility, which sits just off the southern end of Butner Road, features 12 vehicle bays, a unmanned aerial vehicle facility, organizational storage buildings, petroleum storage rooms, a hazardous material storage room and more than 128,000 square feet of parking space.
The facility was designed and built by Detroit-based contractor Walbridge Aldinger at a cost of over $42 million. The improvements over the former facilities that housed the brigade's vehicle maintenance sections can only be described as invaluable.
"I don't believe it gives them any additional capabilities, but I know that the vehicle maintenance facilities that are all around post right now pretty much have the same amenities," explained Phillip Burcal, civil engineer intern at the Directorate of Public Works. "(However,) this facility does have a few features that are not typical."
Burcal pointed out a building exhaust system that allows 4th BCT mechanics to close the doors and continue to perform maintenance on vehicles during the colder, winter months.
The system features a series of hoses that can be mounted to the vehicle exhaust systems while the engines are running. Any harmful carbon monoxide gases that would present are quickly sent out into the atmosphere. This benefits the unit and the post because it eliminates the need for excess energy that would be used to re-heat the service bays.
"It continually ventilates this building," Burcal said. "In the summer, they'll just have to open the doors and keep the system running, but in the winter, as you can see, they've got radiant heaters above all the doors and the ventilator is gas-fired. So in the winter, they'll be able to shut all the doors, turn the heat on and keep it toasty in here."
The motor pool also features an overhead crane with a maximum carrying capacity of 10 tons, making it fully capable of lifting engines and equipment from some of the unit's heaviest vehicles.
Burcal, along with DPW engineer Richard Weeks, pointed out that the facility has a building that may be used to house the unit's UAVs.
"One of buildings near the entrance is a 2,400 square-foot building that is designated strictly for UAVs," Weeks said. "It is actually a UAV repair facility."
The facility includes six shops, explained Weeks.
"There are four small ones and two medium with big cranes," he said.
Burcal pointed out that the other buildings included in the project are located just off Gruber Road, near its intersection with Butner Road.
"We have the exact same thing over there along Gruber Road," he said. "It's the same project, but the two sites are split up at different locations."
Burcal said he was pleased with the efforts of the Walbridge Aldinger team.
"They did an excellent job in helping us to deliver these quality buildings," he said during a tour of the facility Aug. 10. "They worked with the government ... really well."
For safety purposes, the facility features numerous eyewash fountains at several strategic locations.
"Those are located throughout these vehicle maintenance facilities by code," Burcal explained. "You have to be able to reach one within 10 seconds of being anywhere in one of these facilities. I think that translates to having one placed every 55 feet of straight distance."
The vehicle maintenance bays have their own fluid distribution room, which houses tanks that allow the mechanics to fill the vehicle fluids, such as oil, antifreeze, grease and brake fluid, by pulling down several nearby hoses, much like those found at Jiffy Lube and other commercial oil change facilities.
"There's also the maintenance pit that can be used to get under these vehicles," Burcal said. "Additionally, at the end of each of these bays, there's compressed air, so they'll be able to use their hydraulic lifts as well."
The maintenance facility features classrooms, office space, complete with a video surveillance, a computer server room and an intercom system. It also features a room to service and store the unit's small arms or machine guns that often need re-calibrating.
Another innovative feature is a welding area, which has its own fume evacuation unit, to limit the amount of harmful gases that are emitted during the welding process.
"This is an isolated area so that people on the other side of these walls don't have to worry about damage to their eyes caused by the welder's torch," Burcal said of the two stone walls that separate the area from the rest of the shop. "For an additional safety precaution, the gases with which they're welding will be routed in this welding fume exhauster, which is mounted on the wall nearby."
He pointed out that the building has an automatic sprinkler system installed throughout.
Burcal said it has only taken two years for the contractor to deliver the building, a process that included the design and construction process.
"It was a different type of contract," Burcal said. "It's a design-build contract. Walbridge was given the contract to contract out the design and build the project, so they're responsible for both the design and construction.
"They hired a design firm and they completed half the design earlier so that they were able to start building or fast-track it before they had the plumbing, electrical and mechanicals in the building," he continued. "They had steel up before they had their complete interior design done."
Burcal said this process allowed the contractor to complete the project faster than anticipated.
Another plus for the 4th BCT is that it now has a separate building designated solely for the maintenance of its Stryker battalion.
"Each battalion has its own shop," explained Weeks. "This particular building is for the Stryker Battalion and the entire facility belongs to the 4th BCT, all six shops."