On a bright and steamy Louisiana morning, members of the Fort Johnson garrison, along with leaders of the 46th Engineer Battalion, SGS Construction and staff from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District eastern area office, gathered to celebrate the completions of the renovations during a ribbon cutting ceremony, May 22.
“It is an absolute honor for me to be with you to celebrate this significant accomplishment in the renovation of the Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facilities,” said Fort Worth District commander, Col. Paul Culberson.
Located on the recently redesignated Fort Johnson, the renovations at maintenance buildings 3824 and 3830, or TEMFs, came in at a cost of over $12 million.
Renovations to the facilities include roof replacement, exterior wall panel replacement, exterior and interior renovations and improvements. Additionally, improvements were made to the petroleum, oil and lubricant delivery systems, and to the joint sealing for the hardstand area. With all the renovations and modifications, the life cycle of the buildings has been extended by 20 years.
Getting this project to the finish line was the Fort Worth District’s senior construction representative for the Fort Johnson Resident Office, Christopher Woolley.
“Thank you to the Fort Polk Leadership, 46th Engineers, and SGS Construction team for working together with the USACE team to deliver these modernized facilities for our Soldiers,” said Woolley.
The Soldiers of the 46th Engineers were particularly helpful with this project. They were called upon to assist with moving equipment during and after the renovation process and as the team prepared for the ribbon cutting ceremony. While in the maintenance facility, Soldiers were instrumental in validating one of the environmental features of the project.
“Soldiers liked the filtered, bottled water dispensers that were part of the design, and many commented on the fact they like the quality of the water,” said Woolley.
There is a tracking feature on the system that gives an estimate of how many plastics bottles are saved by refilling rather than purchasing several single bottles of water. The system is similar to those found at many airports and provides an environmentally friendly alternative.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a common green building rating system used all over the world. LEED provides a framework for healthy, efficient, and cost-saving green buildings and provides an option for many new or renovated building structures.
“Although these buildings are not LEED-certified facilities, the TEMFs do feature low-flow faucets, flush valves, and a utility monitoring and control system to help curb energy consumption,” Woolley said.
These maintenance facility updates will assist the warfighter in the operation and maintenance of high-tech equipment, allowing Soldiers to effectively shoot, move and communicate in a non-linear battlefield.
The enlisted barracks designs have transformed over the years to align with the changing views on supporting the Soldier. During the World War II era they took on an open squad bay style, where 60-70 Soldiers occupied a single building, with the NCOs having separate rooms on one end of the building. Soldiers remained under the watchful eye and ear of the foreboding NCOs and had very little privacy.
A cacophony of snores echoed through the open floor plan through the night, as soldiers were packed in the tin or wooden barracks like a can of sardines. This would be followed by the clanging of garbage can lids or the sound of grumpy ole sarge’s voice to wake the Soldiers up at the crack of dawn.
Then things transitioned to the Volunteer Army or VOLAR barracks after Vietnam, where three to six Soldiers shared a room and the entire unit shared shower and living spaces.
Today, the barracks offer Soldiers more modern designs with individual privacy in mind. For instance, there are many barracks featuring the sharing of common spaces such as living, dining and kitchen areas, but feature private bedrooms.
“We have taken things a step further in Barracks 2044 and 2045 which total 160 rooms,” said Scottie Goins, the Fort Worth District’s project manager. “Here, the rooms are configured for each Soldier having a bedroom, living room and kitchen. This is a better living environment – much like a one-bedroom apartment.”
So, it was quite a momentous occasion when the Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly renovated VOLAR barracks at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Johnson, La. Army installation, May 23.
“It is an absolute honor for me to be with you today to celebrate this significant milestone in improving the quality of life for our Soldiers here at Fort Johnson, as they are truly the centerpiece of our formations,” said Fort Worth District commander, Col. Paul Culberson.
USACE awarded the contract to Sauer Inc., for approximately $31.4 million back in 2018 with a construction completion date for mid May 2023.
“I would like to specifically thank the Fort Johnson DPW and the Sauer Construction team for working together with the USACE team to deliver these modernized facilities for our Soldiers,” added Culberson. “Without your hard work and being in this for the long-haul, none of this would have been possible. This successful partnership to maintain and improve quality of life is only possible because of your dedication.”
The two state-of-the-art barracks comprise 160 newly renovated quarters. The renovations solved the past maintenance challenges caused by condensation.
“This is another way we are improving the quality of life for Soldiers while extending the life of the facility out to around 20 years,” said Goins.
To top things off, the barracks feature a newly refurbished day room and laundry facility with multiple washers and dryers available for daily use.
The transformation in the design and focus of the modern barracks has well-being of the Soldier at its forefront. These barracks provide privacy, comfort and are much more energy efficient.
“We, at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District are proud to be part of a team dedicated in taking care of America’s sons and daughters who proudly serve our country,” concluded Goins.