The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking at ways to stop grass carp from spawning in the Sandusky River near Fremont, Ohio, and nearly 3,700 miles of rivers and tributaries connected to Lake Erie where they damage habitats, increase erosion, and threaten the economy.
The USACE Buffalo District, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and Ohio Department of Natural Resources are sharing information about the project and different barriers that could be used to stop grass carp.
To minimize or eliminate the impact on native fish species in the river and not disrupt daily life for the people of Fremont, the barriers being considered are behavioral-only.
Read more about the project here.
Detailed scoping information is available for public comment through Dec. 11.
Canandaigua, New York – Another milestone was recently reached on the Canandaigua VA Medical Center construction project as the USACE team was able to turnover the Phase 1 facilities back to the Department of Veterans Affairs Canandaigua VA Medical Center.
The work taking place at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center is currently allotted into three phases. Phase 1 included demolition of Building 2, construction of an Outpatient Clinic, a Chilled Water/Emergency Power Plant, new power and water systems, and temporary Laboratory and Main Kitchen to support ongoing healthcare operations throughout the nearly six-year construction period.
Gerry DiPaola, USACE Project Manager for the Canandaigua VA Medical Center construction, attributed success thus far to the teamwork and dedication of the entire Project Delivery Team.
“Over the past six years, the number of team members working tirelessly towards this milestone, including those that have moved on from the project, is impressive. They have overcome many challenges to ensure the work in Phase 1 was able to be completed,” he said. “I want to acknowledge the efforts of our CFM partners, working together, to bring this project to reality for the Veterans of the Finger Lakes region.”
Matthew Lowe, Chief of the Veterans Affairs Division for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, agreed that partnership has been key to the success of the project.
“Renovating and upgrading a VA medical center influences multiple stakeholders with a variety of interests and issues to navigate. It was very encouraging to have everyone involved working together to ensure success for this project,” he added. “The VA team, both CFM and the Canandaigua Medical Center have been instrumental in working through challenges and unknowns throughout these projects. I believe any success on the project is directly tied to the partnership having a mutual interest and overall goal of delivering for our Veterans.”
DiPaola said there are many issues that need to be considered when working on an active medical facility’s campus.
“One key consideration is to be able to have an active functioning medical center, in other words, maintaining patient services and seeing them with minimal disruption to their normal routine while the work was taking place,” he said. “It’s a great accomplishment - keeping the existing facility up in operation while constructing new infrastructure and renovating the existing.”
The work being done at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center is possible due to recommendations from the Department of Veterans Affairs Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) study, which identified that some decades-old facilities were being underutilized.
“This project enhances the use of the current VA Medical Center in Canandaigua. A study was conducted by the VA and it identified an underutilization of facilities at Canandaigua and so to improve services and Veteran access, planners at the Department of Veterans Affairs called for a modern and consolidated outpatient clinic - a 21st-century outpatient clinic - along with community living center complex, to include cottages and community center, to provide housing to veterans that would benefit from an assisted living type of environment,” DiPaola explained. “So basically, the project improves the delivery of healthcare by consolidating infrastructure and clinical services under one roof and enhances the assisted living care type of facility.”
Lowe said he is proud to be a part of this project that will benefit thousands of Veterans for years to come.
“For over 25 years, I’ve had the pleasure to be involved with new construction, renovated facilities and infrastructure projects on various military installations, but VA projects are special. You are proud to be part of something that supports and takes care of our Veterans,” he shared. “In a small way, all of us working these projects get to serve the men and women who were willing to sacrifice it all for our country. It’s humbling and I’m grateful to be part of what we’re doing to benefit Veterans.”
The Canandaigua VA Medical Center project includes the construction of a new 84,000 square foot Outpatient Clinic, a new chiller/emergency generator plant, renovates 85,000 square feet of existing facility space, and upgrades of existing roadways and site utilities as well as the construction of eight cottages comprising 96 individual rooms in a neighborhood like setting and a community center.
These state-of-the-art facilities were designed to blend seamlessly into the existing historical campus and provide world-class healthcare to approximately 65,000 Veterans living in the greater Finger Lakes region.
Over the past two years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has had nearly 50 agreements and over 100 construction activities underway, thanks to over $17 billion in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These projects are making a difference for communities across the nation, from protecting against floods to boosting commerce to preserving and enhancing aquatic habitats.
Nov. 15 marks the second anniversary of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, legislation that delivered $17.1 billion in supplemental funding to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers across the enterprise. Of that total investment, approximately $1.7 billion was appropriated to the North Atlantic Division to support investigations (studies), construction, the Continuing Authorities Program, and operations and maintenance.
"The transformative investments of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will continue to meet the President’s priorities of strengthening supply chains to bring down costs for working families, protecting American economic competitiveness, combatting climate change, and promoting equity by prioritizing underserved communities," said Michael L. Connor, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
At the division, regional management for BIL projects is handled through its Civil Works directorate and specifically by the lead BIL project manager, Ronald Pinzon, who came to the division a year ago after working at the USACE New York District.
“The highlight of working on BIL, especially coming from the district where I worked for about 20 years, is taking all of the experience from other jobs I’ve had and applying it here directly with headquarters regionally, as well as nationally,” said Pinzon. “It’s a whole lot of learning, but it’s also solving issues and barriers that the districts are coming across, and I get to help them with their execution by addressing those challenges.”
Presently, approximately $240 million of NAD’s BIL allocation has been executed. Some project highlights across the region over the past couple of years since BIL was passed include:
The Mid-Chesapeake Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration project is in the vicinity of the James and Barren Islands in western Dorchester County, Maryland. It focuses on restoring and expanding island habitat to provide hundreds of acres of wetland and terrestrial habitat for fish, shellfish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals through the beneficial use of dredged material. The project implements a long-term strategy for providing viable placement alternatives to meet the dredging needs of the Port of Baltimore while maximizing the use of dredged materials as a beneficial resource. The project consists of constructing environmental restoration projects at both James and Barren Islands to restore 2,144 acres of remote island habitat (2,072 acres at James Island and 72 acres at Barren Island). BIL appropriated $84 million in construction funds, and the project partnership agreement for the construction phase of the overall $4 billion project was executed Aug. 23, 2022.
At Buffumville Lake in Charlton, Massachusetts, BIL provided more than $530,000 for Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant parking lot and access improvements. From October 2022 to May 2023 work included removing a shelter, repaving the emergency access road to the beach, increasing ADA parking spaces from three to 10, and building a new paved walkway leading to an ADA-compliant ramp with handrails to the restrooms. The Buffumville team identified the need for this work in 2017 and BIL allowed it to come to fruition. The prior lack of handicapped access was a frequent comment by visitors before the improvements, and according to the site’s park rangers, the team has received many positive comments since the area reopened.
The New York District is leveraging an infusion of $126 million in BIL funding to undertake crucial maintenance and enhancement projects across several vital waterways, including Barnegat Inlet in New Jersey, New York Harbor and the extensive network of channels serving the bustling Port of Newark and Elizabeth in New Jersey. This strategic allocation of funds is poised to fortify the infrastructure that underpins an estimated $15.7 billion in economic activity, both regionally and nationally. The investment will address sediment accumulation, navigational safety, and ecological sustainability, ensuring the shipping and recreational channels remain accessible and reliable. These improvements are expected not only to sustain but to potentially boost economic vitality by optimizing the efficiency of commercial vessel transit and safeguarding the region's reputation as a premier maritime hub.
BIL appropriated $141.7 million in construction funds for the Norfolk Harbor and Channels, 55-ft. Channel Deepening project in Virginia. On Oct. 16, Norfolk District opened bids on USACE’s third construction contract supporting the project. The milestone is significant, because with this path to contract award, the 55-ft. channel project could be ready for use by deeply laden containerships and coal ships as early as the spring of 2025. The contract package also has options for the beneficial use of beach sand at two locations in the city of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Earlier contracts using BIL funds were awarded in August 2022 for the Channel to Newport News and Norfolk Harbor Inners Channels and in April 2023 for Phase 1 of the Atlantic Ocean Channel. Other portions of the project in Thimble Shoal Channel are nearly completed by the Virginia Port Authority to fulfill their share of the overall project cost of approximately $472 million.
The Inland Waterway from Rehoboth Bay to Delaware Bay project (also known as Lewes & Rehoboth Canal in Sussex County, Delaware) received BIL funding enabling the dredging of the federal channel of the canal for the first time in many years. USACE’s contractor began work in October 2023. The dredged material from the canal will be placed in a facility in Lewes, Delaware, and the contractor will be removing approximately 40,000 cubic yards of sediment at a cost of $1.6 million. The waterway is used by commercial and recreational fishing charter boats, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Delaware Bay and River Cooperative (DBRC). BIL appropriated $3.78 million for Operations and Maintenance funding.
“Throughout the North Atlantic Division, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law brings solid investment to a variety of projects that benefit the people of the region in terms of safety, quality of life and disaster mitigation, to name just a few important aspects,” said Col. John P. Lloyd, NAD commander and division engineer. “This supplemental funding has enhanced USACE’s ability to deliver the program and meet the needs of our state and local partners on projects that will make a difference at the community level.”
USACE’s overall fiscal year spend plans and policy guidance for implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are listed on the headquarters website at: https://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Supplemental-Work/BIL/.
In the heart of Bethesda, Maryland sits the campus of the 243-acre Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), a bastion of hope and healing for countless veterans and active-duty service members. Its gleaming white walls and towering oak trees conceal a world of dedication and tireless effort required to keep the vast institution running smoothly.
The Operation and Maintenance Engineering Enhancement (OMEE) Program at the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, is providing a simplified process to respond to the growing operation and maintenance needs of WRNMMC using streamlined processes that delivers low-cost, quick- response contracts for the operation, preventive maintenance, and repair and replacement of equipment for the sprawling campus.
The OMEE program uses a suite of Indefinite Delivery / Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) operation and maintenance (O&M) service contracts to execute maintenance requirements across the portfolio of Medical Treatment Facilities (MTF), said Chris Moore, OMEE program manager. WRNMMC is one such customer.
“Our contractor was selected on their ability to perform in medical facilities and are very knowledgeable in The Joint Commission (TJC) facility accreditation requirements,” Moore said.
The Base Realignment and Closure recommendations of 2005, the Office of Integration (OI) was formed in November 2005 to oversee the merger of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) and the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC).
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is the flagship of military medicine, also known as the President’s Hospital and the Nation’s Medical Center and is the world's largest joint military medical center with more than 2.4 million square feet of clinical space, more than 7,000 staff members providing care and services to more than 1 million beneficiaries every year.
Moore said since WRNMMC is a major hospital with aging infrastructure, there are challenges every day that the team OMEE team must overcome.
For example, Moore said, they recently had an air handler go down that rendered operating rooms unusable.
“The OMEE staff, contractor and WRNMMC site team responded in record time to add funding, scope, award, and executed the work,” Moore said.
“The hospital experienced the smallest possible service disruption and returned to full mission readiness very quickly. This work was handled as corrective maintenance (a service order), and it is just one example of many where the project development team serves our servicemembers and veterans with excellence.”
OMEE has provided some level of services to Walter Reed for over 10 years.
However, this iteration of the contract providing Operations and Maintenance (O&M) services for WRNMH was awarded in 2022 and as part of Multiple Award Task Order Contract (MATOC) OMEE VI with a total duration of three years and a value of $40 million.
Moore said the contract calls for preventative maintenance, such as maintaining the electrical and mechanical systems through regular service, and corrective maintenance, such as providing rapid response to unplanned facility related disruptions like generator failures.
Navy Cmdr. Russ Jarvis, WRNMMC chief of facilities, said ensuring the facilities are operational can be quite a challenge due to the magnitude of WRNMMC’s mission, but having the OMEEE contract gives him confidence that when something breaks down, the contractor is focused on resolving the issues quickly.
“The contract provides service for over 4,000,000 square feet throughout the hospital campus,” Jarvis said.
“We have a lot of equipment to keep running, and OMEE is an important part that keeps us functioning effectively and having this one contract to react to emergencies 24-7 is instrumental for the staff to provide care and services to the patients,” Jarvis said.
November 14, 2023 - NIKA, a global provider of facility life cycle solutions announced that it has been awarded an $840 million multi-disciplinary contract by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). NIKA will provide general project support services, facility operations and maintenance support, facility support services, project development support services, quantity verification and analysis services, commissioning, occupancy support services, and facilities system support for medical facilities in the Defense Health Agency (DHA) Facilities Enterprise (FE) located in the Contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. Territories.
"We are excited to continue serving our DHA customers under the MFSS vehicle," said Kabir Chaudhary, CEO/President at NIKA. "NIKA is currently providing these critical services to DHA medical facilities across the globe and will continue to bring the same level of commitment to improving health and building readiness as we have successfully done for the last decade of this most important mission."This indefinite delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract has a duration of seven years with a three-year base and two, 24 month options.
NIKA delivers comprehensive services and solutions to support the full life cycle of facilities. For more than two decades, the Department of Defense and federal civilian agencies, as well as commercial and higher education institutions, have trusted NIKA to design, build, operate, and manage their real property. By combining facilities operations management, engineering, and logistics services, we provide value and expertise for complex and mission critical facilities and infrastructure. Headquartered in Rockville, MD with offices in San Antonio, TX, NIKA helps clients enhance operational excellence in locations around the globe.
For more information about NIKA, please visit http://www.nikasolutions.com.
November 14, 2023 - Tetra Tech, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTEK), a leading provider of high-end consulting and engineering services, announced today that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Rock Island District, Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, selected Tetra Tech for a $33 million task order to provide architectural and engineering (A-E) services to design a new 1,200-foot navigation lock on the Illinois River.
Tetra Tech was awarded the task order through the USACE Great Lakes and Ohio River Division’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) Contract. Tetra Tech scientists, consultants, and engineers will design the new lock chamber to improve efficiency, reliability, and safety for navigation traffic along the river. The new lock will be twice as long as the existing lock system which will reduce wait times by more than seventy percent, accommodate larger vessels, and improve mariner safety. The project is a top priority of the USACE Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program.
"The USACE Rock Island District maintains navigable waterways that are essential to the transportation of goods throughout the Midwest," said Dan Batrack, Tetra Tech Chairman and CEO. "Tetra Tech looks forward to using our Leading with Science® approach to design systems that improve critical infrastructure, support public safety, and enhance the resilience and reliability of U.S. waterborne transportation supply chains."
About Tetra Tech
Tetra Tech is a leading provider of high-end consulting and engineering services for projects worldwide. With 27,000 employees working together, Tetra Tech provides clear solutions to complex problems in water, environment, sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy, and international development. We are Leading with Science® to provide sustainable and resilient solutions for our clients. For more information about Tetra Tech, please visit tetratech.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
The more the merrier.
That common saying could be the motto for an effort within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to create a near real-time system that would track the safety and accessibility of our nation’s inland waterways.
Taking advantage of vessels already on the water, an effort in the works at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) will use those vessels’ depth finders and GPS to create a snapshot of a channel and any obstructions that may exist.
This information, crowdsourced for private and public vessels, would support USACE’s existing survey fleet and reduce the impact of any threats to navigation on the 25,000 miles of inland waterways USACE maintains.
“The Army Corps of Engineers has a fleet of surveyors that do highly accurate, precise surveys on a periodic schedule for all of the waterways,” said Dr. Brandan Scully, a research civil engineer with ERDC’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory. “But given the nature of those surveys, cost, time, available vessels, etc., we do not have the ability to continuously monitor.
“In order for us to do that with traditional resources, it would cost millions of dollars.”
Scully said crowdsourcing bathymetry would use equipment that already exists on vessels, such as depth finders and GPS, and supplement it with a device that would transmit that data. Once collected in a cloud, the data would then be quickly analyzed and aggregated with data from other vessels in the same area to give a picture of that portion of the waterway.
“It’s relatively simple. It’s like plugging into a router at your home for the internet, and it aggregates the position and the depth observed by the vessel and sends it off to a cloud computing resource,” Scully said. “And because there are many more waterway users, because they’re working all the time, we can have a rolling picture of parts of the waterway based on who is in the crowd and how much they are moving around.”
Scully said this information – this picture – could then be used to prioritize the actions of the USACE survey fleet and its ability to capture accurate scans to better observe any concerns with navigation. It also provides the ability to watch the waterways between scheduled surveys.
As for the next step, Scully said ERDC is currently working with public and private organizations to determine the best device and setup to roll the program out on a larger scale for a proof of concept. In addition, he said there is still work to be done on where to best house the data and distribute the information.
In a discussion at the recent national meeting of the Association of the United States Army, Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, 55th Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of USACE, said he envisions the use of this crowdsourced bathymetry as a sort of digital traffic map for inland waterways, much in the same way as popular apps on cellphones provide updates on highway traffic. He also said a program such as this would help in USACE’s response to natural disasters, such as hurricanes.
“An example I would use is we just had Hurricane Idalia come through the state of Florida just a few weeks ago and the South Atlantic Division has five survey vessels that have to cover 12 ports in the state,” Spellmon said. “And that takes time after a storm. You have to get our survey crews there and work with the Coast Guard to reopen those ports.”
Spellmon said being able to pull data from public and private vessels already navigating in the area would provide “real-time processes of the federal navigation channel, and we would not have to put a survey vessel in that area right away.”
Scully said the analogy of a traffic app is a good one.
“Those apps tell you the speed of traffic and where the police might be and stuff like that,” he said. “But what this is telling us, essentially, is where are the potholes? Where are the speed bumps?”
The critical portions of this research are determining the technology to use to transmit and collect the data (whether that is a private or public solution), finding ways to aggregate and analyze it, and then figuring out how best to push out the information to those who need it, such as commercial operations and teams tasked with clearing any threats to navigation.
“That’s one of the nice things about ERDC … we filter the solutions and find the right answer, or we find the best available answer right now,” Scully said. “We have to have a good match between the Army’s mission and the provider’s capability.”
While the program continues to wait for additional funding to advance the technology, Scully said the exciting part is there is already buy-in from some Districts and Divisions, who believe such a technology would help their inland waterway operations.
“The Districts and Divisions really want this. I have been working with the Mississippi Valley Division and the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division. They want this as fast as they can,” Scully said. “They have shippers willing to go out and buy this on their own.”
Scully said this technology and idea are not novel -- similar technology is already being used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for ocean and coastal operations, but it would be the first use of this technology on inland navigation.
“Mariners on our inland waterways are not necessarily going to benefit knowing the channel is in good shape,” Scully said. “They will benefit more knowing that there’s an obstruction and where that obstruction is.”
No one likes to do the maintenance. That’s true whether talking about a house, a car or multi-million-dollar missile defense infrastructure. Or so says Brian Ball, the chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Middle East District’s (TAM) Procurements and Services Branch.
The branch can provide regular and corrective maintenance for facilities, equipment, procurement of spare parts & consumables, and new or replacement construction for facility related equipment, building renovations as well as training and professional services support.
“We build some really great facilities for our mission partners,” said Ball. “But even the best facilities only last if you maintain them. Our District has had a presence in the Middle East for over 70 years and some of our early projects are still around today. But we’ve also seen cases where we built something, no one does the maintenance on it, and even just a few years later its fallen into a state of disrepair.”
TAM is unique among USACE districts in that most of it’s work is done on behalf of U.S. allied nation partners. When the U.S. sells weapons systems or military equipment (aircraft, missile defense, etc.) through foreign military sales cases, those nations will often pay TAM to build the infrastructure for those systems. Using USACE helps ensure what’s known as a “total package approach and means that the FMS partner will not only receive the actual equipment but that the infrastructure to support it is built by an organization familiar with the requirements. It can also include follow on material such as spare parts and training to help ensure everything is kept in good working order.
Ball said that using his branch benefits his district and USACE as well as their mission partners.
“It's in our best interest to see the facilities we build reach their full service-life potential and not fall into disrepair,” Ball stated. “Our customers benefit from that increase in facility lifespan and from not having to dedicate their own time and personnel to maintenance activities. We benefit because these big, fancy, impressive buildings we’ve built remain in good condition and can serve as showpieces and points of advertisement for USACE’s design and construction quality.”
According to Ball, one of the biggest challenges of his job is convincing the district’s mission partners to use his services.
“It’s sometimes hard to measure success in a program that’s meant to prevent something bad from happening rather than just building something. What I will say is that I’ve yet to see an instance where a mission partner has asked us to stop providing O&M services on any facility once we’ve put a program in place."
Ball was also quick to attribute much of the success his branch to the district’s contracting section.
“Anything you could say about the uniqueness of our mission in (TAM) Programs and Project Management, you can say about them in the context of the USACE Contracting Community and our contracting section. “What we do is not unique but the expertise with which we are able to do it providing our mission partners with what they need when they need it is. This is something we’ve developed over time and we’d love to see utilized more and more.”
In September, the St. Paul District conducted an on-site training event with federal and state partners to look at past and ongoing island projects to determine the best path forward for restoration projects as part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration program, or UMRR.
Participants included representatives from the Corps and agency representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as from the Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa departments of natural resources.
“Today is a training exercise,” said Scott Baker, Winona resident engineer. “We are seeing some typical projects to talk about lessons learned, what worked well and what didn’t work well, so that knowledge can be incorporated into future projects.”
The team of agency representatives visited Conway Lake and Harpers Slough restoration projects, in Pool 9 of the Mississippi River, which were completed in 2022. The team also visited McGregor Lake Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project, an active construction project.
“These exercises are important because we’re getting more money for island projects, and we have more projects now in various phases than we’ve ever had before,” said Baker.
Baker explained that these projects are important for wildlife.
“The river is losing habitat at a very fast rate. The islands are disappearing, which had lead to increasingly turbulent water and light can’t get through to help the vegetation grow. That habitat and vegetation is particularly important for migratory birds,” said Baker.
UMRR started in 1986 when environmentalists filed a lawsuit when Lock and Dam 27 was built, wanting environmental work done on the river. The compromise started the Environmental Management Program, which would become UMRR. It was authorized for $200 million over a 20-year period and was reauthorized in 2006.
UMRR ensures the coordinated development and enhancement of the Upper Mississippi River system with a primary emphasis on habitat restoration projects and resource monitoring. In the 36-year history of the program, more than 55 habitat projects benefiting approximately 100,000 acres from Minneapolis to St. Louis, have been completed.
“I enjoy these projects in particular because you can see tangible results for future generations to enjoy the wildlife,” said Baker.