By Mr. David E Poe (IMCOM)September 17, 2010
FORT BLISS, Texas -- Vice President Joe Biden released a report called "100 Recovery Act Projects that are changing America," Sept. 17 that lists Fort Bliss' $51 million Warrior Transition Barracks as the number one example of successful projects born out of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The barracks is one of nine Army construction projects funded by the act, otherwise known as the Stimulus Package.
The WTB complex at Bliss, which broke ground Oct. 16, 2009, will offer 185,000 square feet for 116 living units, a headquarters and family support center. The structures will house servicemembers who no longer require hospital care but still need a healing environment in which to rehabilitate from injuries. Their families will also be able to live with them.
"This project features a state-of-the-art building complex that will assist Soldiers and family members in their recovery efforts," said Col. Christopher W. Martin, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers' Fort Worth District.
The Recovery Act initiative won't only benefit Americans as they support healing servicemembers, but also has had an immediate economic impact on the El Paso, Texas, community and beyond as almost 250 jobs have been created as a result of this project.
In May 2009, after his company was awarded a predominant amount of the stimulus-grown contract, Tom Mertz, vice president of Sundt Construction's Federal Division, said because of the type of quality care that will be administered at the WTB complex, he and his fellow employees remain exceptionally dedicated to the project.
"[WTBs] are a new breed of facilities within the military hierarchy of structures and facilities," said Mertz. "There are so many improvements in treatment for battlefield trauma, including rehabilitation for brain trauma or head injuries. We are honored to be a part of building this facility."
FPM Remediations of Rome, N.Y., also was awarded the Bliss WTB contract and plays a dedicated role in the successful completion of the project.
Tucker Allen, Sundt's project superintendent for the Fort Bliss WTB complex, said he is confident in the project's Feb. 15 completion date.
"We're dead-on," said Allen. "We're exactly on schedule."
This week Allen has been supervising work on the second floor's 232 bedrooms, where subcontractors are completing dry wall and texturing in the rooms and hallways. By November, tiles and cabinets will be in place.
"Once that happens, you're almost done. You're there," said Allen, who added that the project is nearly 70 percent complete.
In all, 20 WTBs are slated to be built on American military installations, but only two, Bliss and Fort Campbell, Ky., are being built with the help of stimulus funds.
Biden, via White House press release, said the Bliss project, along with the rest of the Recovery Act initiatives, are not only catalysts for short-term economic stimulus, but promote a focused direction for America's economic future.
"With Recovery Act projects like these, we're starting to turn the page on a decade of failed economic policies and rebuild our economy on a new foundation that creates good middle class jobs for American families," said Biden, "and we're not engineering this transformation alone - Recovery Act projects like these are drawing billions in private capital off the sidelines to help recharge our economy."