The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District completed construction of the Digital Air-Ground Integration Range at Fort Knox, Kentucky, June 9, 2023. The range complex is designed to replicate a complex operational environment and serves to train and qualify soldiers to detect, identify, engage and defeat stationary and moving targets.
The $25 million contract for the construction of the high-tech live-fire range includes more than 400 target emplacements, which will accommodate new and renovated stationary and moving infantry and vehicle targets. The construction contract which also included an urban cluster, machine gun bunkers and new range control tower was awarded on Sept. 26, 2019.
The design for the roughly 2,000 square-acre range, which is only the second of its kind, was completed in-house by USACE engineers at the Louisville District.
“With the design being in-house, it made it easier for us in the construction division to communicate with the designers because they were with USACE,” said Drake Sullivan, USACE project engineer. “Streamlined communication helped the project move along quicker without needing to go through a third-party Architect-Engineer firm.”
The sheer size and environmental attributes of the project posed some unique challenges for construction. Travel through the construction site would often take 30 to 45 minutes to traverse. Partly due to the nearly three-and-a-half-mile length and partly due to the range occupying a low-lying area with a high-water table, the muddy conditions and river obstacle required constant communication between construction teams.
“It was a huge challenge for the contractor to supervise and communicate with the different construction teams because of the way the range is laid out,” Sullivan said. “It was equally as difficult for us to navigate the range to complete our quality assurance checks.”
Another challenge was the fact that large portions of the existing range were not yet cleared of munitions. A staggered notice to proceed was implemented to allow construction to start in specific areas while other areas were being cleared of munitions.
“To overcome this challenge, we communicated very heavily with the contractor and the rest of the USACE team,” Sullivan said. “This project has had a great safety record that reflects no reportable or lost-time accidents.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District park rangers worked with the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Department to safely cordon off an area within Green River Lake for Kentucky National Guard Soldiers to parachute, Aug. 5, 2023, in Campbellsville, Kentucky.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers along with Campbellsville Fire and Rescue and Kentucky Fish and Wildlife have been extremely accommodating in assisting us with ensuring the safety of our paratroopers,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Lunger, 20th Special Forces Group Military Intelligence Company readiness NCO and jumpmaster. “Working with the Army Corps of Engineers has been great. They have been extremely helpful and go out of their way to ensure we are taken care of for the airborne operation.”
The Kentucky National Guard chose Green River Lake to conduct a deliberate water jump because the size of the water area that is available to parachute is sufficient to safely accommodate paratroopers and their parachutes. Additionally, the available space at boat ramp one was able to accommodate the types of boats required for the operation. With the exception of 2022, the Kentucky National Guard has been parachuting into Green River Lake since 2011.
“The National Guard training day at Green River Lake is an event where the Kentucky National Guard, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Campbellsville Fire-Rescue, Kentucky Department of Parks, and USACE come together to ensure safe and successful training occurs,” said Lori Brewster, Green River Lake park manager. “It turns into a community event because it is publicized and members from the local community come out, set up on the dam or the visitor center point to watch the guardsman drop into the lake.”
To ensure a safe event for everyone, USACE park rangers ensured the jump area was clear of obstacles, coordinated communication between participating agencies and provided traffic control on the dam. During the jumps, park rangers directed boaters outside of the ‘drop zone’ and assisted lake patrons and spectators.
“It’s just an enjoyable day and a joint cooperation between many agencies to make it happen,” Brewster said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District celebrated the groundbreaking of a $65.9 million Forage Animal Production Research Unit with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and University of Kentucky (UK), May 23, 2023, in Lexington, Kentucky.
The new 52,600 square-foot research facility for the USDA Agricultural Research Service, located at UK’s College of Agriculture, Food and the Environment campus, includes office space, research laboratory space, collaborative areas, a headhouse and eight-bay greenhouses. The facility design incorporates functionality, collaboration and expanded research capacity.
“Partnering with USDA’s Agriculture Research Services (ARS) and multiple stakeholders and non-DoD processes, has been an enlightening learning experience with a unique building program,” said Mark Beville, USACE Louisville District design manager. “Most importantly, we have an excellent collaborative team that resolves the challenges in a professional manner.”
USACE played a key role in facilitating the design and planned construction for the new and modernized building for ARS’s Food-Animal Production Research Unit, which is a hub of innovative ideas and solutions in support of forage-based farm enterprises nationwide.
“It is very reassuring that we have the project management experience of USACE supporting us,” said Michael Flythe, FAPRU research leader.
Personnel with the USDA ARS and UK will conduct research on the development of sustainable forage systems at the new facility, which is scheduled to be completed in 2027.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers delivered a 117,034 square-foot maintenance complex to the Army Field Support Battalion during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, March 15, 2023.
The project, with a programmed amount of $44.7 million, consisted of the construction of four general purpose maintenance facilities that includes an allied shop building, engine auto shop, production control building and a paint booth building. The project also included 42,110 square feet of concrete parking.
The new complex consolidates 28 AFSBn maintenance shops, which were in 11 separate locations, into a single complex consisting of seven buildings.
The project focused on cost savings by consolidating and replacing many of the aging WWII-era buildings with energy efficient facilities that would accommodate the maintenance of large equipment used by the garrison.
“It’s been great to have the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers come up with a plan to make this facility,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Dwayne Terry, Army Field Support Battalion commander. “It’s a one stop shop. Soldiers can come here, and they can drop off their vehicles, radios, weapons, and so forth all in one location as opposed to being spread out throughout Fort Campbell.”
One of the challenges during the project was the regional cement shortage that prevented the timely receipt of concrete. Through additional planning and communication, the required amount of concrete was obtained to finish the project.
“With every success, there are bound to be challenges,” said Jason Phillips, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fort Campbell resident engineer. “The Fort Campbell team consistently overcomes obstacles by leveraging the skills of our diverse professionals, using the best engineering practices and fostering strategic partnerships.”