Aug. 7, 2011

Engineer service projects aide communities in Richmond, Stafford County

By Cotton Puryear      
Virginia Department of Military Affairs

Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard's Petersburg-based 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command put their engineer skills to practical use for two community service projects in Stafford County and Richmond during their two-week annual training period from July 16 to 30. The work was part of the Innovative Readiness Training program that allows engineers to put their military skills to work on community service projects approved by National Guard Bureau.

 

A Soldier from the 276th Engineer Batallion operates a chain saw June 22 at the location of the planned Stafford Civil War Site. Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the 276th Engineer Battalion as part of the effort to clear and grade an access road for the park. Approximately 75 engineers from the Powhatan-based 180th Horizontal Construction Company along with the Cedar Bluff-based 1033rd Engineer Support Company and a section from the Bowling Green-based 189th Multirole Bridge Company worked together on the project. The Soldiers are conducting the work as part of their two-week annual training period as part of the Innovative Readiness Training program. The IRT allows engineers to put their military skills to work on community service projects approved by National Guard Bureau. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

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"The use of heavy and light engineer equipment on these sites prepares Soldiers for the Defense Support to Civilian Authorities mission," said Capt. Dave Baber, commander of the Powhatan-based 180th Horizontal Construction Company, 276th Engineer Battalion and project officer for the Virginia Guard. "We need to be prepared to react to hurricanes, floods, tornado's and heavy snow removal. These projects will help give us real world training making us better prepared to support the Commonwealth."

Approximately 75 engineers from the 180th worked to clear and grade a pedestrian and biking trail along Cannon Creek which runs parallel to the Richmond Henrico Turnpike as a part of the Greenway project. In Stafford, Approximately 75 engineers from the Cedar Bluff-based 1033rd Engineer Support Company along with Soldiers from the 180th and a section from the Bowling Green-based 189th Multirole Bridge Company worked to prepare an access road for the planned Stafford County Civil War Park.

The Petersburg-based Forward Support Company of the 276th Engineer Battalion provided all logistical support for the units on both sites, keeping them fed and fueled.

"This is a great opportunity for these men and women to use the skills they have as Soldiers to help the community," said Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia after touring the site in Richmond.

During the two weeks on the Cannon Creek site, Virginia Guard engineers cleared and grubbed 3,100 linear feet of trail, removed 350 tons of debris, placed and compacted 1,450 tons of gravel, conducted 1,634 hours of equipment training and 287 hours of chain saw training, Baber said.

The work in Richmond is part of the Phase I of the Cannon Creek Greenway that will bring the road to final grade in order to prepare the road for paving immediately following the engineer's construction. The 276th is scheduled to continue that work of Phase II for their annual training period in 2012. This pedestrian and bike path will run from Valley Road north to Dove Street along the eastern portion of the Richmond Henrico Turnpike. The work being performed is valued at $300,000 and is being provided at no charge to the city.

 

Virginia Guard engineers from the Powhatan-based 180th Horizontal Construction Company, 276th Engineer Battalion work to clear and grade a pedestrian and biking trail along Cannon Creek which runs parallel to the Richmond Henrico Turnpike as a part of the Greenway project. The Petersburg-based Forward Support Company of the 276th Engineer Battalion is providing all logistical support for the units on site, keeping them fed and fueled. The work is part of the Phase I of the Cannon Creek Greenway that will bring the road to final grade in order to prepare the road for paving immediately following the engineers construction. The work being performed is valued at $120,000 and is being provided at no charge as part of the Guard Innovative Readiness Training Program.

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"I am amazed," said Ellen F. Robertson, Councilwoman for Richmond City Council's Gateway 6th District after touring the site. "I can’t believe the Guard has done so much work in such a short time."

At the end of two weeks in Stafford, the engineers had cleared and grubbed an access road that is 50 feet wide and 3,500 feet long, hauled gravel more than 3,700 miles and clocked more than 1,400 hours on heavy equipment and chain saws, Baber said.

"The Guard has meant success to the project," said Glenn Trimmer, a retired Air Force colonel and executive director of the Friends of the Stafford Civil War Sites. "There wouldn't be a project without the Guard." Having the Guard providing the construction work in concert with the donation of supplies and support from Stafford County to move the project along after the county agreed to set aside the land, he said.

"I have been staggered by how efficient they are," Trimmer said. He said he was expecting the engineers to clear 100 feet of road in the first day, and the Guard engineers cleared 500. "They all seem genuinely glad to be here," he said.

The planned Stafford Civil War Park includes three large Union battery fortifications, winter quarters encampment remains, a corduroy road and a pre-Civil War sandstone bridge ruin on property recently preserved by Stafford County and the City of Fredericksburg at the request of the Friends of the Stafford Civil War Sites.

Future phases of this project will be to take the road to final grade in order to prepare the road for paving, and engineers from the 276th are scheduled to continue that work during their annual training period in 2012. This road will have multiple parking lots allowing visitors to get out and walk the historic grounds in Stafford County, allowing for greater awareness of this site while still preserving the original forts and encampment.

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