Squadron always busy improving Offutt’s infrastructure

  • Published
  • By Mark Jacobsen
  • Director, 55th Civil Engineer Squadron
You've probably noticed open holes scattered across the base and may have wondered why they're there. Quite simply, we've been fortunate to receive funding to perform sorely needed upgrades to our infrastructure and are in the midst of several projects which will ultimately make our infrastructure much more reliable.

These efforts include replacement of our fire hydrant system, water mains, gas mains sanitary sewer mains and storm drainage system. On the surface, it may appear that all this mess is for naught. We won't have new or renovated facilities to look at as a result of this work, but we will have added reliability. Once the holes are backfilled, the work can be forgotten.

Forgotten by most of the base, but not by the 55th CES. For us this means less broken lines, less faulty valves and less utility outages.

We realize the planned utility outages we've been working through all summer in support of these projects can be a pain to deal with. It's no fun to have to use a port-a-potty when the water to your facility is shut off for half a day to allow a connection to be made, but it's even less fun dealing with unplanned outages for emergency repairs. These replacements will greatly reduce the amount of utility failures and the less failures we have, the less outages we'll have.

Much of the infrastructure we're replacing predates World War II. Upon completion of these projects, we'll have reliable utilities which will remain in use for the next seventy or more years. Although we've gotten through the bulk of the replacements this summer, we'll continue to perform upgrades over the next few years until all antiquated infrastructure are replaced.

Maintenance of our electrical infrastructure has been privatized to the Omaha Public Power District. OPPD is also in the process of performing upgrades. The reliability of Offutt's power grid will improve tremendously with OPPD's replacement of old power lines, transformers and switchgear, meaning fewer power outages in the future.

All critical missions at Offutt are backed up by our power plant. It's operated in-house by our CES electricians with the sole purpose to provide continued power during the loss of commercial power. We run the generators up immediately when commercial power to a critical facility is lost and fire up the generators during periods where the loss of commercial power is threatened, like during thunderstorms. We do this to limit downtime to an absolute minimum.

One infrastructure upgrade which won't be buried or hidden from view is the rerouting of Looking Glass Avenue. This project, scheduled to be completed this calendar year, will eliminate the safety hazards associated with the old roadway through the middle of the Field House parking lot marked by painted lines. The new Looking Glass Avenue will have clearly identified intersections and be bordered with concrete curbs, making it very obvious as to where the road ends and the parking lot begins.

Our in-house paving crew also continues to repair damaged pavement throughout the base, including the airfield. We're working diligently to get the pavements ready for another winter as this same crew will then be driving snow plows and filling potholes.

Thanks for bearing with us as we continue to improve our infrastructure and remember us the next time you turn the faucet on or hit the light switch!