September 20, 2002, 23:32 EDT

Pickett's driving home for State Police

by Spec. Stephanie Willer
Virginia Guard Public Affairs Office

BLACKSTONE, Va. - Active army units arrived at Ft. Pickett this month to start Phase-I of the new high speed-driving course for the state police department.

Staff Sgt. Al Britton, a nine-year veteran, prepares to lift a section of drain pipe into position as other unit members wrestle a 200-plus pound drain into it's final resting place. The drain will become an essential part of the series of storage ponds being built by the 63rd Engineering Company stationed at Ft. Benning. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Turney, VaARNG Public Affairs Office.)

With help from Joint Task Force 6, the 63rd Engineering Company (CSE), is working with local designers to implement an environmentally safe area for future construction of the Virginia Public Safety Driving Facility, which will be completed in 2005.

The new site, which will cover over 160 acres of land, will include a driving course that will allow for highway chases, small town urban maneuvers, skid pads, and other driver training needs. The facility will give state police officers the opportunity to hone in on their driving skills in an effort to help avoid high-speed crashes in the future.

The current unit's scheduled mission completion is within a 100-day block. They will be leaving Nov. 15, 2002. The next unit assigned will then resume construction.

The objective of the engineering unit is "to insure that environmental controls such as sediment basin ponds, damns, diversion dikes, coverts, access roads and construction entrances are put in place before construction begins," said Army 2nd. Lt. Darren J. Fraser, project officer for Phase I. He added that barracks and a cafeteria are also in the plans and may be constructed by a follow-on unit or contracted out to the community.

According to JTF-6, their task force relies on volunteers for all missions. They have direct liaison authority with all of the services and major commands and are constantly looking for units and individuals interested in participating.

"Engineering missions through the JTF-6 range from multi-story training facilities for state police departments to border road construction for the U. S. Border Patrol. The engineer missions offer military engineer units unique training opportunities to exercise multiple skill level tasks in military construction. Missions are challenging and provide unit leadership some of the best 'real world' construction training within the continental United States."

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