Along Wickham Avenue sounds of bulldozers and hammers echo across the installation as construction continues on the new 716th Military Police Battalion Headquarters.
A few blocks down, at the corner of 46th Street, workers construct a new vehicle maintenance facility for 1st Brigade Combat Team.
These two buildings are just a couple of the new facilities under construction at Fort Campbell.
Military construction projects (projects costing greater than $750,000 for new work) require congressional approval, and are executed under the joint jurisdiction of Fort Campbell’s Directorate of Public Works Master Planning Division and the Louisville District Corps of Engineers.
“We program them. We plan them. We estimate what they are going to cost. The Commanding General prioritizes them,” said Sally Castleman, chief of the Master Planning Division. “Once projects work their way up through the Army/DoD chain of command to congress, they are typically authorized and funds are appropriated to construct them.”
In determining these major construction projects, the Master Planning Division follows the Future Years Defense Plan, “which is a five-year planning cycle,” Castleman said.
“Even though we have a project on this Future Years Defense Plan, there’s no guarantee that it’s actually going to be funded until the [federal] appropriation passes in that specific year,” she said.
In 2011, about 10 facilities, including a military working dog kennel, several child development centers and a medical/dental clinic, were completed.
This fiscal year, construction continues on a new brigade/battalion headquarters complex building for the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade and the MP headquarters, among others. A new Chapel on Bastogne Avenue is slated to open in April, she said.
Construction contracts totaling more than $328 million also will be awarded this fiscal year. Funds will be used to build a new hangar at Sabre Army Heliport, two hangars for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, two new barracks complexes, an addition to Blanchfield Army Community Hospital and a new physical fitness center on the south end of post, Castleman said.
“These new buildings will be larger because the Army standards for the different building types are much larger than the legacy facilities currently being used,” she said.
Among the new facility projects in the design phase now are several new on-post schools. Castleman said DPW is working with the Department of Defense Education Activity to plan the replacement of four elementary schools, two middle schools and construct an addition to Fort Campbell High School.
Schools slated to be replaced will be Barkley, Marshall, Jackson, Lincoln, Wassom and Mahaffey, she said.
“The schools program is somewhat dynamic, and changes are always possible,” she said, noting federal budget cuts. “We’ve started design on Barkley.”
Castleman said the new elementary schools would be built to Army standards for those facilities.
“Barsanti would be a good template for an elementary school,” she said.
The post’s most recent addition, Barsanti Elementary School, was formally dedicated in January 2011. The school is located on the south end of post to serve the housing communities of Gardner Hills and The Woodlands. It can house up to 550 children in grades Kindergarten through fifth grade.
Looking ahead to future projects, Fort Campbell will be refocusing its efforts to renovating existing structures instead of constructing new facilities, Castleman said.
“When Congress starts making cuts in the defense program, military construction is one of those areas that has typically taken a big hit,” said Castleman, “so their focus now … is taking our existing facilities and maximizing use of what we have rather than just wholesale constructing new. It’s a new way of thinking – a real paradigm shift for us because we are integrating major renovations of buildings with the new construction. So it’s become a comprehensive plan of facility investments.”
An example of an upcoming renovation project will be transforming several existing buildings at the area called Old Clarksville Base to accommodate the Non-Commissioned Officers Academy.
“That’s a good example of a change in strategy,” Castleman said. “We’ve had a new NCO Academy on the books forever and ever and nobody’s picked it up… This is an interim leap frog approach until we can get an entire new academy constructed, if we ever do.”
Castleman said quality of buildings is rated according to Army standards to determine if they should be renovated or rebuilt. If a facility is rated in poor condition, it “gets a higher priority,” she said.