End to Aviano construction almost in sight
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Twenty-nine months and counting.
While it might seem to local residents that the Aviano 2000 construction project has gone on forever, the Air Force plans to have most projects wrapped up by the end of 2009.
“By then, we should be done with about 95 percent of the projects,” said Steve Rose, program manager.
Aviano 2000, the program to build infrastructure and facilities for the 31st Fighter Wing on a previously little-used base, began in 1999. It features 91 projects with a budget of $610 million, much of that coming from NATO.
Rose said Wednesday that 78 percent of the projects are done, although the Air Force has yet to move into some of the facilities.
New headquarters for the 31st Security Forces Squadron is completed, and the U.S. is expected to take control of the building shortly. But it’ll take a few months to move in furniture and get the building ready for business. The 21,000-square-foot facility cost $3 million to build.
Next door, the long-delayed indoor shooting range won’t open as quickly. A difference between Italian and American regulations has kept the facility from being used. But a contract for a retrofit is expected to be awarded soon, Rose said, making a February opening possible.
But while that facility and numerous others through the years have been delayed weeks, months or even years, there are exceptions. The $2.7 million family support center, rising next to the post office, was scheduled to open in March 2008. But Rose said it might open in November — about five months early.
The $11 million passenger terminal, one of a handful of projects delayed by Spain at the NATO level, is quickly coming into shape on the north side of the runway and should be completed by June. It might not be available for passengers until the end of 2008, though.
Rose said construction hasn’t started yet on 10 projects, including a new base library.
“We have about $160 million yet to put into the ground,” he said. “We’re whittling that down every day.”
The length and scope of Aviano 2000 has forced planners to make numerous changes along the way. The planned closure of an Italian road between Area 1 and Area 2 has now officially been scrapped. That, in turn, caused the site for the library to shift — again.
The facility, which has been envisioned on at least four sites, now will be built where the existing library is. Rose said it should be finished by the end of 2009.
Only two rojects are not expected to be completed by then. The base is refurbishing three hangars and four warehouses one at a time so those not undergoing work can still be used. Those projects should be finished in 2012 or 2013, Rose said.