Two Fort Benning construction projects with a total estimated price tag of nearly $30 million are in the early stages of development, and a separate $4.9 million facility is on track to open this summer.
The new projects — a training support facility and a flight control tower — are slated for completion in mid-to-late 2020, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Funding for these three projects are already in place and will not be affected by President Donald Trump’s efforts to have barriers built on the nation’s southern border. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday that Trump could siphon upwards of $260 million from Georgia military construction projects.
“Those funds have already been awarded,” said Billy Birdwell, spokesperson for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Savannah district. “Those contracts are in place.”
Future state military projects, including a reserve trade center at Fort Benning, could be at risk, according to Department of Defense estimates being circulated by Senate Democrats. Projects with award dates after Sept. 30, 2019, could be reallocated to fund border barrier projects, according to the document.
The new 12-story flight control tower will replace the old eight-story tower, currently at the base’s Lawson Army Air Field. The new tower will feature a tower cab with an exterior catwalk, administrative spaces, locker room with showers, restrooms and other amenities, said Amy Vaughn, a resident engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Construction is expected to begin sometime after mid-April, and the tower is expected to be completed and in use sometime in November 2020, Vaughn said.
Augusta, Georgia-based ACC Construction Company, Inc. was granted the construction contract for the project in late February. The project is expected to cost about $10.7 million.
The current tower had a number of safety issues and was cited as a contributing factor for the loss of the base’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, said U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.
Isakson worked with two other Georgia lawmakers, U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop and U.S. Sen. David Perdue, to secure funding after he learned of problems with the tower in 2015.
“Upon learning these problems, among others, were enough to be cited as a contributing factor to the loss of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, we brought then-Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations Katherine Hammack to personally tour the facility,” Isakson said. “I’m glad the visit led to action, and we will soon have a new tower in place.”
Construction on a separate training support facility is also underway. The project is expected to cost nearly $17.5 million. ACC Construction was also awarded the contract on this project.
The center is 11 percent completed which is slightly ahead of schedule, Birdwell said. The center is slated for completion in May 2020.
Work on a new tactical, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) maintenance facility at the base is almost complete. Move in is scheduled for mid-summer. The current cost for building the facility is about $4.9 million, Birdwell said.
“It’s just getting started,” he said.