Commentary Search

70 years and still growing strong

  • Published
  • By Bob Hughes
  • 6th Civil Engineer Squadron director
In April of this year we celebrated the 70th birthday of MacDill Air Force Base. Our long history began in 1941, which means our facilities and infrastructure were constructed during the 1940s. We have had many upgrades since then, replaced several facilities and increased our electrical distribution systems, but we still have a way to go to revitalize our plant. Over the last eight years the Air Force has invested heavily to improve the quality and reliability of this 70-year-old base in order to support our demanding mission long into the future; hopefully another 70 years. It's hard to believe that another fiscal year has passed. From a civil engineer standpoint, it has been another continuous year of changes, increased investments and needed improvements.

We are working extremely hard to keep these systems working, building for the current and future missions, replacing tired old pavement and utility systems all at the same time. There are several other process improvements in coordination and redistribution of workload that are also intended to improve efficiencies, effectiveness and just make life easier. I know you have seen many of these projects as they progress through the construction process. I am quite confident you anxiously await the completion of many of them because they create short term inconveniences. Some are more challenging than others and some are longer than others, but they are only short term in the long range plan.

The books for fiscal year 2011 are closed now, but our project work continues. The typical cycle of investment decisions holds facility and infrastructure work until the end of the fiscal year. All that means is that we will be starting newly funded projects in the next couple of months. The good news is the Air Force continues to invest in our recapitalization, but it will also come with some more inconveniences. As we move into the new fiscal year, you will see other visible improvements taking place. This fiscal year we were able to award projects that will greatly improve parking surfaces on base. The parking lots near the hangars will be resurfaced and several parking lots on the north side of the base will be paved for the first time.

In addition, we will again be rebuilding another major roadway. The section of South Boundary Blvd. from Hangar Loop to Zemke Ave. will be widened to two lanes in both directions.

MacDill was also fortunate to have project investments that support our fitness programs. A new quarter-mile track will be constructed behind the fitness center and the jogging trail will see improvements from the Joint Communication Support Element area through housing.

Along with our construction efforts, the landscape (and view) will change along Bayshore. The oldest remaining housing units on base, known as Wherry housing, will be demolished in the next several months as our privatization partners complete the final new homes needed for our required number of homes on base. This will conclude a four-year construction effort to replace the majority of the previously government owned housing on base. We will also be demolishing the Bayshore Officer's Club and two Visiting Officer's Quarters facilities near the Davis Conference Center. Starting later next year we will be constructing a new Visiting Quarters.

We often refer to "Team MacDill." The saying typically is used to refer to our local representatives from all services and other nations that work here. When it comes to funding investments, awarding and executing projects, a much larger team effort is required. The team expands to include members from HQ Air Mobility Command, HQ Air Force and all of us that work at MacDill through the disruption of growth and improvement. None of this work would be possible without the excellent coordination among your engineer, contract and comptroller squadrons. We truly have the best working relationship among these three entities. That partnership has enabled us to produce long-term improvements for all of MacDill.

Over the next 12 to 24 months, MacDill will continue to evolve and get the face lift both above and below the ground. Fiscal year 2012 will be more of the same daily challenges that we all have come to know working at MacDill; the opening of new facilities, congestion on our roads, and construction vehicles at our gates and parking challenges in key areas on base.

Thanks for being a key participant on the team and working with us for the long-term benefits and improvement of MacDill.