JBER continues rebuilding after November quake
Like much of the Anchorage area, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is still feeling the impacts of the Nov. 30 earthquake.
The magnitude 7.1 quake highlighted a couple areas of concern on the base.
Air Force Lt. Col. Jacob Leck is commander of the 773rd civil engineer squadron. He says most of the buildings are from the 1940s and ‘50s and have asbestos in them. Leck points to four warehouses that store essential gear for both the Air Force and Army. Those structures are still tagged for limited entry and restricted use.
The problem, Leck says, is figuring out how to clean asbestos off of the troops’ gear.
"How do you clean parachutes? How do you clean tents? How do you clean all that equipment?” asked Leck.
There is also the issue of structural damage. Air Force Lt. Col. Vhance Valencia is commander of the 673rd civil engineer squadron and says 858 buildings in total have been inspected on JBER.
"We’ve got concrete columns that are connected by concrete beams, and in between those beams and columns are [concrete masonry unit] block walls, and the big damage that we have here is that those CMU block walls, they’ve come loose," Valencia said. "And that’s kind of endemic across the base, the kind of construction we have.”
Valencia says that, of the 858 buildings inspected, two are condemned and 49 are tagged for restricted use with limited entry. Repair costs are estimated at more than $75 million but damage is still being assessed.
“It’s a slow process because we want to understand the extent to which the building is damaged, and not every building is constructed the same way, and so the damage that they’re going to incur isn’t the same,” Valencia explained.
Engineers expect it will take roughly two years to bid out all the work, with JBER being completely repaired in three to 3 1/2 years.
The pool at the Buckner Fitness Center has reopened since being shutdown due to the earthquake, but the large pool has not. Engineers say the repair is nearly ready for bid and it will be another four to six months before work begins.
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