Fort Riley, Kansas



U.S. Corps of Engineers keeps Fort Riley in good repair

By Jessica Healey | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | August 04, 2014

From historical renovations to water line replacement and construction of the new hospital, the U.S. Corps of Engineers at Fort Riley seems to does it all.

“The corps is huge and does everything from civil works projects, emergency response to maintenance of waterways and inland waterways and reservoirs. We are the Army’s construction agent, so the corps handles all of the military’s construction, the congressionally appropriated projects,” said Anthony Cady, program manager forward, Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“And the majority of the Air Force’s as well, along with the Reserves,” added Mark Schuler, area engineer, Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps of Engineers office at Fort Riley is made up of about 30 engineers who work closely with the Engineering Division in the Directorate of Public Works.

The organization also provides emergency management, civil works and environmental assistance.

The Corps also often collaborates with the Environmental Protection Agency to complete projects.

“The Corps is a national tool, not just within defense, but any other government agency. When something different needs to be built, quite often, the agency in need comes to the Corps of Engineers,” Schuler said.

The Kansas City district for the Corps, where the Fort Riley office is based, responds when floods or other natural disasters occur.

“The Corps immediately sent an emergency response team out to Joplin, Missouri, to start working with debris removal (after a catastrophic tornado hit in 2011.) They also did a lot of structural repairs,” Cady said.

The majority of the Corps’ projects at Fort Riley consist of sustainment, restoration and modernization.

These projects include historical renovations, water line replacements and electrical repairs.

The Corps is currently working on a few dozen projects at Fort Riley. Part of its function is to oversee contracts in addition to planning and executing.

“We are involved in so many things. Whatever the post needs, quite often, they can come to the Corps of Engineers and find that help,” Schuler said.

If the expertise needed isn’t available at Fort Riley, then the Corps will collaborate with its district office in Kansas City.

“Our district functions like any other architect, engineering and consultant firm, but we also do emergency management,” Schuler said.

The largest single project the Kansas City district has ever done is located on Fort Riley and currently under construction.

The new hospital will be the largest project executed by the district when it is completed, and the Corps of Engineers at Fort Riley assisted with the process.

“I think that when you talk about the Corps and the entire district, you have to talk about the hospital,” Cady said.

The vast project is not only large in scale but also detailed and of high quality, all of which he said takes time to complete and ensure all standards are met.

“The quality that’s required for that facility will be there when the ribbon’s cut,” Cady added.

The hospital will boast many upgrades from the old one, including more rooms, better facilities and many green or energy efficient features.

“The hospital will service more people in a greater degree than any other facility the Corps has worked on at Fort Riley,” Schuler said.

Another recent project that had a large impact on the Fort Riley population was the replacement of water lines on Historic Main Post.

“One project I was most happy to work on was the water line replacements on main post,” Cady said. “We brought new water, new water pipes and meters into every single building -- including housing and down on main post -- and replaced all of the water mains. The magnitude and level of detail that project took and the improvement of the quality of basic drinking water on main post made it one of my most rewarding projects.”

The designs for the water line replacement project were completed in the Kansas City district office and after nearly two years the project is just about complete according to Cady.

“They are virtually finished with all of the facilities are on new water,” he said.

Projects like the water lines often take a long time to complete and are intrusive to residents and workers at Fort Riley. However, Schuler explained the prolonged inconvenience is a result of the challenges maintenance work presents.

“It’s tougher to do maintenance projects than new construction as they often have to be done in phases,” he said.

Cady added it’s also tough when they have to dig into people’s yards, but it’s necessary and the outcome is worth it.

Less intrusive projects the Corps of Engineers have taken on in the interest of environmental preservation include assisting the EPA with a pilot program to build a membrane biological reactor and repurposing a portion of Camp Funston that was occupied by portable buildings.

“Those trailers on Camp Funston were no longer needed and expensive to maintain. There were 89 of them,” Cady said. “So now we are sending that area back to grassland.”

Without the Corps of Engineers, DPW would be left with the responsibility of many of their projects.

Based on the magnitude of what the Corps of Engineers actually do here, it’s unlikely that the post itself would have the manpower to get as much done without them, Cady said.

“The beauty of us being here is we work with and personally know all the primary stakeholders on the installation, and they know us,” he said. “We know what’s important to them; and we know their intent as we design and build infrastructure for the post.”

“There are no other organizations that can do all the different things the Corps of Engineers does,” Schuler added. 

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