Fairchild Air Force Base will be bustling with construction activity in coming months, even if it doesnt get new air tankers.
The U.S. Air Force awarded about $31 million in work at the West Plains base recently, and most of the projects are expected to get under way yet this year, says Lee Paul, a civil engineer at Fairchild.
The money is part of the $37 million the Air Force had budgeted for construction work at Fairchild during the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The amount of construction that has been awarded is up substantially from the $17 million in projects awarded in the previous fiscal year, Paul says.
That surge in activity doesnt include any improvements that would be needed to accommodate the new Boeing KC-767 air-refueling tankers proposed for Fairchild and other bases. Congress still is deciding whether to lease or buy 100 of those new aircraft, 32 of which are expected to be deployed at Fairchild. If Fairchild ends up with the new planes, the base here also is expected to receive $200 million in construction funds to build facilities that would accommodate the aircraft and enable Fairchild to serve as the training base for the KC-767s crews throughout the Air Force.
Its possible that work (to support the new aircraft) could come this year, Paul says, but adds that would require an amendment to the current 2004 fiscal budget, and the work is more likely to occur in fiscal year 2005.
Meanwhile, the largest of the $30.6 million in projects awarded last month involves a series of asphalt and concrete repairs on a taxiway that runs parallel to the bases main runway. The cost of those improvements total $5.9 million.
The majority of that work is scheduled to be completed over a five-month span next spring and summer, Paul says.
Burton Construction Inc., of Spokane, has been selected to do the concrete work, which accounts for $4.4 million of the project, and Seattle area-based Triton Marine & Construction Corp. will do the asphalt work.
Another project, for $5 million, involves making security improvements at two entry gates to the base, Paul says. Parsons Engineering Inc., of San Antonio, will handle the project as part of a $60 million national contract it has obtained to improve security at Air Force bases nationwide, he says.
At Fairchilds main gate, which is located along U.S. 2 on the north side of the base, Parsons will build a new visitors center and vehicle-inspection area, and will realign intersecting roads just inside the gate, as well as make other security enhancements.
Paul says the new visitors center will be located just north of the current building, closer to U.S. 2, and the vehicle-inspection area will be behind the current visitor center.
The other entry gate to be improved is along Rambo Road, on the east side of the base. Paul says that gate currently is used infrequently, but will be converted into the bases main gate for commercial traffic. That conversion involves adding a gate house, a vehicle-inspection area, and making other security improvements.
Work at both gates is expected to get under way next month and is scheduled to take a year to complete, he says.
At a communications building out of which the bases mail functions operate, a $3.6 million renovation is scheduled to get under way next month and likely will take a year to complete, Paul says.
That project involves a complete exterior renovation and re-roofing of the 21,400-square-foot building, which is located in the west-central area of the base. Also, a portion of the storage space in the building is being converted into administrative office space.
Wade Perrow Construction LLC, of Seattle, is handling that design-build project.
In the central part of the base, a $2.1 million project is expected to get under way next month that involves demolishing an old, 50,000-square-foot steam plant, which includes three stories above ground and two levels underground.
In addition to tearing down the plant, which no longer is used, that project involves abatement of hazardous materials and restoration of the site.
M.J. Takisaki Inc., of Seattle, is the contractor on that project.
M.J. Takisaki also is handling a $1.9 million upgrade to two hotel-like lodging facilities at Fairchild that are used to accommodate people visiting the base on business. The structures, a three-story, 20,000-square-foot building and a two-story, 15,000-square-foot facility, are located a short distance from the main gate and include a total of 35 guest rooms.
Paul says work on one building is scheduled to start next month and to be completed in May. After improvements to the first building are completed, renovation work will start at the second structure; its scheduled to be completed in November 2004.
At the main dining hall on base, a $1.1 million renovation is scheduled to get under way in January, Paul says. The 17,300-square-foot facility is the largest dining hall at Fairchild and serves most of the 676 airmen who live in dormitories on the base, he says.
The project involves improvements to the dining room, kitchen, and serving line, as well as expansion of an outdoor patio. Work is expected to be completed in June, Paul says. Burton Construction is the general contractor on that project, and Zeck Butler Architects PS, of Spokane, designed the improvements.
Paul says the remaining $11 million in work at the base is made up of a smattering of projects worth about $1 million or less. They include water-line upgrades, airfield lighting improvements, parking area repairs, roof repairs, exterior building improvements, and on-base housing repairs.
Fairchild is located along U.S. 2 just west of Airway Heights. The base is the largest employer in Spokane County, with a total of about 5,900 employees, including about 1,200 civilians.
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