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Fort Bragg barracks demolition begins with bang

Posted June 18, 2009

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— Demolition began Thursday on 54-year-old Fort Bragg barracks whose poor conditions, documented in a YouTube video, prompted a presidential vow to destroy and replace them.

Bulldozers bite into Fort Bragg barracks Bulldozers bite into Fort Bragg barracks

The father of an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper posted the 10-minute video, showing mold, rust, chipping lead-based paint, broken drain pipes and a gas line stuffed with tissues. In one image, a soldier tried to unplug a floor drain that appeared to be clogged with sewage.

"Could I say that it was a YouTube video that caused it?That’ll be something Congress has to answer," Bragg spokesman Tom McCollum said. "But what I can say is last year, Congress and the DA (Department of the Army) released some funds that allowed this project to move forward."

Then-President George W. Bush toured the barracks and pledged to have them down by 2011.

The money appropriated by Congress will allow Bragg to have 13 barracks down by the end of this summer. New ones, which have been planned for more than a decade, will open within two years – well ahead of schedule.

"Anytime that the Department of the Army and Congress gives us money to replace aging barracks and improve the quality of life for our soldiers, we’ll gladly take that money," McCollum said.

Preliminary work on the $88 million project began last week with asbestos abatement. Environmental hazards, such as mercury thermostats and smoke detector batteries that contain acids, were taken to be recycled. Three-quarters of the debris will be recycled at Fort Bragg's landfill.

As bulldozers first bit into the barracks Thursday, it quickly became apparent, that despite their unhygienic conditions, the buildings were tough enough to resist coming down.

"If any soldier that used to lived in these barracks had always wondered about the structurally soundness of them, I can guarantee you these things were tough, and they’re hard to come down," McCollum said.

"They’ve kind of served their time from an architectural standpoint and floor layout, but as we can see, the structure’s still obviously very sturdy," said Allen Hand, resident engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District.

Rising in the place of the Korean War-era barracks will be state-of-the-art living facilities, including two 222-person barracks building, two four-company operations buildings and one 288-person barracks building.

The soldiers will get to live in apartment-style suites with kitchens, private bedrooms and living rooms, Hand said. And they'll enjoy one more big benefit – private bathrooms, instead of community restrooms.

"The soldiers' standard of living will be much improved in these barracks," Hand said.


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  • haggis basher Jun 18, 2009

    "What a scam this is!"
    Why do you say that?
    " Once someone moves out, they have someone else move in within days, so there is not even enough time for a major repair or overhaul of the living quarters."
    Thats no excuse. The troops could be out in the woods on "Exercise" once a year whilst they have major work done. For routine maintainence, thats something the troops themselves can do and if nothing else it will make them more careful about messing the place up in the first place.

  • chfdcpt Jun 18, 2009

    Ginger, I can see your point of view. Also keep in mind that since these quarters were built, they have not received any major maintenance or upgrades. Once someone moves out, they have someone else move in within days, so there is not even enough time for a major repair or overhaul of the living quarters.

  • 3potato4 Jun 18, 2009

    For the folks that haven't been to Ft. Bragg for awhile, let me assure you that the building of not only single soldier quarters but for families as well, has been going on pretty hot and heavy for quite a few years now. Please, give it a tour for yourself some time.

    And as much as I love and respect our soldiers, lets not forget who got these barracks in this condition in the first place.

  • 5-113 FA Retired Jun 18, 2009

    What a scam this is!

  • EZeegoing Jun 18, 2009

    Our servicemen deserve better living conditions than previously reported. Living in portable tents while deployed is one thing, living in substandard quarters at home is unacceptable. I am glad to see them get better stateside living quarters.