Summer promises record construction at 173rd Fighter Wing

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

Spring arrives at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon, with spreading greenery and a snowline that shrinks back toward the surrounding mountains.

In recent years it also signals a proliferation of bright orange traffic cones across the base, safety yellow and green vests and shirts and hard hats, flatbed 18-wheelers loaded with building materials and temporary fences bearing logos for various contractors.

As spring leads to summer, construction season at the 173rd Fighter Wing will swing into full pitch and this summer promises to be the busiest yet, which is surprising considering the large projects that have been completed in the last decade: the new south gate complex, new fire department building, new security forces building, road construction and the list goes on.

“We are going to replace the whole ramp,” said Pat Walsh, a 173rd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer project manager. “We have a new corrosion control facility being built, a new indoor shooting range and then we are going to revamp the gym.”

The very first stage of the total ramp renovation project is underway as crews expand the south gate complex entry and exit to facilitate the huge number of construction vehicles.

“Half the ramp is going to be gone at any one time,” said Walsh, who estimates that the number of trucks coming and going in a single day could reach several hundred.

The reason for this is that unlike previous ramp renovations this one will strip and replace not only the concrete surface but several feet below it in order to create an incredibly durable surface that could even hold “heavies” like a C-17. Currently an aircraft like that is required to come in without cargo and with a light fuel load to keep it from sinking into the concrete when it is parked.

The reasons for this particular upgrade are many but one is important to Kingsley’s state mission of protecting the community. During a Cascadia Subduction event like an earthquake or tsunami, the base is likely to be spared the ill effects and would thereby be one of the closest places to route cargo through. The ability to bring in fully loaded aircraft would greatly improve the disaster response and help shorten the amount of time victims have to cope on their own.

Capt. Oscar Alonso, the deputy civil engineer for the 173rd Fighter Wing describes the situation with the civil engineer’s unofficial motto, “We believe the path to success is always under construction.”

It’s a lighthearted way of saying that infrastructure growth and improvement point toward a bright future.

“The fact that the National Guard is willing to invest as much as they are right now in Kingsley Field speaks volumes,” he adds.