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Trenching to divert traffic, improve base utilities

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Trenching on base will disrupt traffic here starting mid-August as Communication Flight and Civil Engineering work to improve on-base utilities.

During construction, traffic to the east side of the base will enter through the Main Gate and the one-way street in front of the air park will temporarily service two-way traffic. Traffic to the west side of the base will enter through the West Gate located on Park Ave.

CE's project, slated to cost $640,000, will be to lay new water pipes, replace aging control valves, and install new fire hydrants. COMM's project will cost an additional $1.6 million and will replace inadequate fiber optics cables throughout the base.

When the base was first built, the old 6-inch water lines were adequate to service those who worked here. Since then, the base grew and the water demand exceeded what the old pipes could handle, said Maj. Aaron James, base civil engineer.

"We had cases when a water line would break, but the valves to that area were so corroded that we had to shut off the main water valve to the entire base to fix that one pipe," Maj. James said.

The new fire hydrants will be placed at intervals not more than 300 feet apart to help ensure adequate water supply is available during fire response and to comply with the National Fire Protection Association 291 code, said Edward Bejarano, assistant fire chief.

Southwestern Dakotah, a private contractor, was hired to install new water valves, 19 new fire hydrants, and new water lines upgrading the old pipe to 10-inch pipe, said Major James.

While the Main Gate traffic is diverted for the new water lines, Northrop Grumman, a contractor for COMM, will be replacing the fiber optic cables servicing the base, said Senior Master Sgt. Teresa Gallegos, plans and implementation branch chief.

Four years ago base leadership realized the 162nd's communication infrastructure was in need of an upgrade to meet Air Force requirements, Sergeant Gallegos said.

"The new cables will increase the internet access speed from 3 MB to more than 44 MB. We will be one of the few Guard bases that have that capability," said Sergeant Gallegos.

Replacing the fiber optic cables is only the latest move to improve on-base communications.

"Seventeen buildings were upgraded last year," Sergeant Gallegos said. Also, COMM plans to add four information transfer nodes. "What is significant about this is that it will eliminate a single point of failure, increase network survivability, and take advantage of GIG speeds," she said.

"In our current infrastructure, we travel on a 3-lane, or 3 megabytes per second, highway. The DS3 at 45 megabytes per second will expand our highway to 45 lanes--15 time or 1500 percent faster," said Tech. Sgt. Stephen Zimmer.

However, the base communications can only work as fast as the Regional Operating Security Center, based out of Portland, Ore. These improvements will help prepare the 162nd to be ready for future needs.