Story and photos by
2nd Lt. Benjamin Hansen
523rd Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — In the past year, Integrated Area Management, or ITAM, identified more than 150 miles of roads that are showing signs of rutting, potholes and erosion, all of which can cause hazardous conditions and vehicle maintenance nightmares.
To address part of the problem, the 523rd Engineer Company (Horizontal), 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, teamed up with Range Control during the month of August to provide critical engineering support on East Range roads, here.
Under the supervision of ITAM and Schofield Barracks’ Range Control, the 523rd Eng. Co. “Bulldogs” began conducting road maintenance projects throughout East Range, South Range and the Kahukus training areas.
In the past, the majority of road maintenance was outsourced to contractors, leaving ITAM with the problem of a limited budget while still requiring road maintenance to keep the training areas safe for troops.
The Bulldogs capitalized on the construction opportunity and coordinated directly with Range Control and ITAM as an effort to prepare their company for a nine-month deployment to Guam in 2013.
As a result, the company obtained project approval from Range Control and created squad-sized projects to provide both project management training and equipment operator experience critical to mission success during deployment.
The project scope includes grading, compacting and filling operations to fix damage caused by traffic and erosion. Over time, erosion and heavy traffic have blocked the drainage outlets with debris, altering its ability to effectively drain water from the road surface. To improve drainage, the Bulldogs focused on repairing drainage ditches, known as broad-based diversion ditches, a shallow dip in the road that allows water runoff to flow across a road while still allowing vehicles to maintain normal travel speeds.
The 523rd command team included the ditch repair in its preliminary planning process to successfully accomplish the project scope.
In the first five weeks of construction, they had successfully repaired more than 3,700 meters of road and fixed 23 broad-based diversion ditches.
The project provided ample training for equipment operators, noncommissioned officers and platoon leadership. For younger NCOs, it was an opportunity to train on project management and run a small-scale project.
“The project provided good training for our guys who didn’t have a lot of experience with job site management,” said Sgt. Victor Rexach-Monroig, one of the project supervisors. “It allowed them to work on a real project and train at the same time.”
“I liked the project,” said Sgt. John McAllister, heavy equipment operator, 523rd Eng. Co. “Our work really made a difference on the road, eliminating potholes, and allowed the Soldiers to train on road repairs.”
The Bulldogs will continue to provide engineering support and improve road conditions on the heavily trafficked roads on East Range through October.
Although projects will be halted due to the company’s deployment to Guam, enough work is available to keep the Soldiers employed for a year upon their return. At that time, the 523rd Bulldogs will re-deploy and continue working with ITAM and Range Control on future projects in 2013.