LAS VEGAS – It’s been said that what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District is working on military construction projects in and around the Las Vegas area that will have effects across the country and around the world.
One project at Nellis Air Force Base is the addition and renovation at the 422 Test Evaluation Squadron building.
“The project will add a 16,000 square feet facility and there will be renovation of 4,000 square feet of the existing building,” said Mark Porterfield, project engineer at the District’s Nellis Resident Office. “Construction began in early June and the project is due in March 2013”
The $5.9 million project is a joint TeeHee-Straub venture that will house key computer systems. Joshua Jack, the project superintendant and site safety officer said there are some unique challenges with the project.
“The main challenge has been in making sure the existing building remains mission ready,” Jack said. “Tying into an existing building has brought unforeseen challenges. With the tie-in points and the elevation, we have to make sure the connections match and the area is level. Plumbing and utilities have to be tied into the new structure and into the existing remodel without interrupting ongoing operations.”
The project is the second one for the TeeHee-Straub team. The first is was at Vandenberg AFB in California. Jack said the project is going well at this point and said he is proud to be working on the building at Nellis.
“It feels good to be building something this important,” Jack said. “I’m a military brat. I understand the mission and what the end goal represents. This building will be used for future generations of military men and women.”
Another project at Nellis is the F-35 Maintenance Hangar. Porterfield said construction is just getting underway.
“We have to demolish some existing buildings and are continuing our abatement procedures,” he explained. “When the project is complete, there will be a six-bay hangar with entrances on both sides.”
Porterfield said the $20 million project is due for completion in October 2013. Once the hangar is complete, he said another project, the hangar’s Engine Shop, will begin. It will go alongside the hangar; but, construction cannot begin until after the hangar is done.
At Creech AFB in Indian Springs, Nev., the District is putting up a Mission Control Center in which personnel will be controlling unmanned aircraft around the world. According to Roger Miller, a construction representative at the Creech Resident Office, the finished facility contains four buildings – Administrative area and Control center in one building; Hangar; Supply; Support. There will also be a ramp and apron area.
“We have a great track record here on base with the buildings we have constructed for them,” Miller said. “We’ve been involved with all the of the major block facilities here.”
The 76,000 square foot facility is scheduled for completion in November, but Miller said there are changes pending that could push the schedule to February 2013. Both Miller and Yvonne Scofield, another construction representative at the Creech office, said Soltek Pacific Construction, the prime contractor, have an excellent track record for their projects in California; but have had to work through a learning curve in Nevada.
“We’ve been schooling them on our requirements. They haven’t done a USACE project before so they didn’t have a good understanding of the level of management we use with our projects,” Scofield explained. “They’re used to, and they know a lot about, building in California; but, they lacked knowledge of the environment out here.”
Among issues Soltek has been working through are familiarity with the soil content on the job site and curing rates of the concrete in the area and how it differs from the jobs they’ve performed in California.
“We’re a little behind; but, we’ve been catching up quickly,” said Tom Licon, Soltek’s general foreman. “The project is moving along so far so good.”
Miller said the safety officer and a superintendant on the Soltek team are outstanding and is pleased with the progress made on the project over the past month. He and Scofield both feel the project is important and are proud to be involved.
“I’m glad I’m on this project,” he said. “It’s been a lot of stress, but it’s an interesting and unique project.”
In Sloan, Nev., almost 30 miles south of Nellis, the District is working on another project. Ron Musgrave, a project engineer for the District, is overseeing work on the U.S. Army Reserve Center there. Construction on the $25M project began in February 2011 and, because of an extension due to modifications, is due for delivery Sept. 19.
“There are several Reserve bases being built across the country so I think there is a renewed emphasis on Reserves in the Army,” Musgrave said. “We have a 60,000 square foot training bldg, a 12,000 square foot storage facility with a vault, a small storage facility for miscellaneous equipment, a five-bay vehicle maintenance facility with administrative offices and about five acres of concrete parking area for military equipment.”
There have been some challenges on the project. Because of its location, there weren’t any utilities on the site. Currently, negotiations are underway regarding the electricity for the building. When the project began, there was no water available to the site. The District and MW Builders, Inc., the prime contractor for the project, has worked to overcome any obstacles.
“We were trucking water out here for months until we could get the well done,” said Greg Herriott, Mw Builder’s operations manager. “Since that time, we helped acquire six water rights for the government.”
In Nevada, each water right grants usage for a certain amount of water. The acquisition by MW Builders will ensure the project and the buildings on the facility have enough water to maintain operation. Herriott said having Musgrave on the site represents more involvement than they are used to having from a government agency. However, he and Jason Gibbard, the project superintendant, said they are highly appreciative of the open dialogue between his team and Musgrave’s District team.
“The best thing about this project is how well Ron and I have gotten along,” Gibbard said. “We’ve been able to work through a lot by sitting and talking with each other.
Musgrave is a rehired annuitant for the District. He retired from the Corps of Engineers in 2006; but has come back since 2006 to work on assorted projects. He’s been on the Reserve Center since 2010.
“It’s a whole new perspective being a rehired annuitant,” he said “You can really enjoy the job. Overall, it’s just the feeling that I’m working because I enjoy the work instead of because I have to be here. “
Musgrave is just one of the many rehired annuitants facilitating projects across the District. The projects at Nellis, at Creech and in Sloan are only a fragment of the jobs District personnel perform on a daily basis. With their commitment to ensuring military customers receive the highest quality construction available, the projects represent how the District team continues Building Strong and Taking Care of People.