Eielson Air Force Base officials will oversee a new contract that will pay for up to $350 million worth of maintenance on roads and airfields at all four Air Force and Army installations around the Interior over the next seven years. And four of the five contractors that will do the work are based in Fairbanks and North Pole.
The new contract does not signal the end of the long-running rivalry over funding between the armed services. But it marks a sort of departure from the norm, because it provides for road and airfield maintenance at installations in the Interior operated by two branches of the service.
“The Air Force and the Army partnered together in the development of this contract,” says Air Force Maj. Cal Gentry, who heads up Eielson’s 354th Contracting Squadron. The unit will oversee the seven-year contract that’ll provide up to $350 million for the maintenance work.
“We issued the contract, we administer the contract, but Fort Wainwright and Fort Greely can place their own orders off of the contract,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
Gentry says the contract also is designed to reduce red tape that often comes with getting routine maintenance done, because it requires only task orders for projects costing less than $10 million, instead of full-blown separate contracts.
“It saves us a lot of administrative time to issue task orders for these maintenance projects, versus having to do a new competition for each and every single project,” he said. “That would just be very time- and cost-prohibitive.”
Gentry says installation officials may not spend all of the $350 million authorized under the contract. He says that figure is based on the maintenance that’s been needed in recent years at the four installations, which besides Eielson includes Clear Air Force Station and the two Interior Army posts: Fort Wainwright, including Ladd Army Airfield; and Fort Greely, including Allen Army Airfield.
The contract also is intended complement some upcoming work on Eielson, to accommodate among other things the two squadrons of F-35 fighters that are coming to the base.
“The airfield upgrade – I think that will be a couple of years down the road,” he said. “We’re still doing some maintenance, some improvements, we’re finishing up some loose ends from the F-35 construction with the existing paving contract that we have in place.”
That existing five-year contract will be succeeded by the new pact, which went into effect on May 1. The new contract adds Clear and the part of Eielson that’s used by the Alaska Air National Guard’s 168th Refueling Wing. And it’ll employ the same four locally-based contractors, including Colaska/Exclusive Paving, H-C Contractors, Paving Products and Great Northwest. And the new pact adds a fifth contractor – Anchorage-based branch of Granite Construction.