By Rose L. Thayer
Fort Hood Herald
More than $679 million in construction is under way on post, bringing plans of a more campus-like environment and a new post exchange to life, among other projects.
"We're creating these campuses so there's not a fragmented unit footprint," said John Burrow, chief of the Real Property Planning Division at Fort Hood. "It's somewhat already there, but they're not energy-efficient-type facilities."
Burrow and his team broke the military installation into districts and created an area development plan for each of them. Some districts already are visible: The 1st Cavalry Division's footprint is primarily on Battalion Avenue, west of T.J. Mills Boulevard, while the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment's footprint is east of T.J. Mills.
"In the old days, we did cupcake-type planning," Burrow said. "You need a company ops, we'll throw you a company ops."
Now, the planning division looks is embracing a new, self-contained campus model that takes into account a unit's overall needs. It also aims to minimize Fort Hood's 10-million-square-foot deficit, based on its population.
The 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade was the first unit to receive a campus. Located just outside the East Range Road Gate, it's surrounded by cows and vacant land, which allows the unit to use radar equipment necessary for training without interference.
The brigade headquarters moved into its new $14.7 million office space in July and the battalions are scheduled to move by spring 2012. When complete, the campus also will include a dining facility, barracks, a shoppette and physical training space. Construction on the motor pools is under way.
The long-range project began in 2008 and will continue for at least the next five to 10 years. While no funding for the project has been cut, money for the barracks has been deferred past the five-year mark.
"It's a multi-phased plan to build this campus," Burrow said. "It's not something that happens overnight. It takes time to do this. The difference now is we are being financially challenged. We as a country are, so it's not a question if the barracks will be built out there, it's when."
Wounded warriors construction nearly complete
For the Warrior Transition Brigade, the first building in its new campus - a headquarters office - should open near the end of the year.
"We have facilities, but this will allow us to centralize those," said Maj. David Shoupe, public affairs officer for the brigade. "Right now we are spread out on three different campuses on Fort Hood."
Besides office space, the campus will include a soldier family center and new barracks, which are under construction and scheduled to open early spring 2012. The $70 million barracks will have rooms easily accessible by people using wheelchairs or having other physical limitations. Currently, wheelchair-accessible rooms are in temporary buildings.
"What it demonstrates is the Army's dedication to our wounded warriors," Shoupe said. "When I see it, to me it's a brick-and-mortar declaration of our nation's support for our wounded warriors."
The campus is located near Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center. In December, construction started on a new $534 million hospital, which will replace the current 45-year-old building.
In May, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service plans to start construction of a new post exchange near Clear Creek Road and Tank Destroyer Boulevard. The target opening is November 2013.
"The facility will replace the Clear Creek Shopping Center, which is approximately the same size, but cannot be easily reconfigured to meet the needs of Fort Hood," said Judd Anstey Public Relations Manager in an email.
The site's existing exchange was built in 1976 and expanded in 1996. Anstrey said the typical lifespan of an exchange building is about 30 years, so Fort Hood is about on schedule for a replacement. The new exchange will be a silver LEED-certified building and have many of the same amenities as the old one.
Burrow said Fort Hood is in talks with the federal Defense Commissary Agency to replace the existing commissary on Clear Creek Road.
Just down the road, construction continues at the $13.8 million Hood Stadium, which is set to open next year. The previous athletic complex was torn down to make way for the new hospital.
Contact Rose L. Thayer at email@example.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.