Construction, employment flourish at Bliss
Sgt. Barry St. Clair,
24th Press Camp Headquarters:
New projects are popping up on a daily basis as Fort Bliss continues expansion with new construction, reconditioning and other improvements offering employment for hundreds through local small business contractors and sub-contractors.
Fort Bliss has grown exponentially over the past three years, building from Airport Road to Highway 375. Currently there are both improvement and new construction projects in various stages of completion across post.
“In September 2005, the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission recommended expansion at Fort Bliss which resulted in $5 billion of new construction as part of ‘Grow the Army’ phase one,” said Lee Green, a civilian with Directorate of Public Works’ Master Planning Division here. “Currently we have $250 million worth of contracts that are in various phases of completion.”
Two large water tanks are being constructed at East Fort Bliss to support the recent construction for the 1st Armored Division brigades.
A new health and dental clinic is taking shape just east of Highway 375, while infrastructure for the new Army hospital complex is under way at the south corner of Spur 601 and 375. The more than $950 million hospital is scheduled to open in 2015. The health and dental clinic is scheduled to open later this year.
Across 601 to the north is a combat simulator complex, which is nearly complete. Also soon to open farther to the west off Sergeant Major Boulevard is the new firehouse and police emergency services center for East Fort Bliss.
An aquatic center is also under construction near Sgt. Joshua Soto Physical Fitness Center and the Exchange mini-mall.
On the corner of Haan Road and Sergeant Major Blvd, Balfour Beatty is erecting 188 new townhomes.
“There will be a community center, leasing office and pool to serve the new Rio Bravo neighborhood,” said Doug Howard, lead project director for residential housing at Balfour Beatty. “We are also renovating 220 homes and demolishing 126 homes at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.”
The last project on Sergeant Major Boulevard before crossing over to West Fort Bliss is a parking lot for Biggs Park.
At West Fort Bliss new motor pools are under construction at the corner of Haan and Chaffee roads. The landscaping and some windows remain to be installed as the project continues.
Off J.E.B. Stuart Road to the southeast of the Abernethy Park motor pool, construction for the THAAD project is under way.
To the west across J.E.B. Stuart is a second housing project near Replica Aquatic Center and the Old Fort Bliss Museum. The new Chamizal Vista neighborhood will also include a pool, leasing office and community center with 344 new homes.
“We are planning for early summer delivery of the first homes in this neighborhood in 2013,” said Howard. “We are also currently continuing construction and delivery of 84 townhomes in the La Noria neighborhood near the J.E.B. Stuart Gate.”
One last project just east of William Beaumont Army Medical Center is the new community center and leasing office in the Beaumont neighborhood.
“There are plans for an additional 408 homes in the Grow the Army phase two awaiting approval to begin construction,” said Howard. “The impact on the Fort Bliss community is that we expect the wait list for housing to begin to shorten. The impact for the larger community is that we continue to meet or exceed our goal of achieving 70 percent of our contracts, currently worth $120 million, in construction and development granted to local and small business owners.”
Renovations of existing buildings are also under way to improve energy efficiency. These projects have been taking place over the past couple of years and there are two at different locations on Chaffee Road that serve as an example.
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