Lack of snow puts Grafenwöhr construction work on fast track
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — A billion-dollar construction project to accommodate thousands of new soldiers and their families over the next few years is racing ahead thanks to the warmest autumn since records began.
Climatologists say this autumn may be the warmest in Europe since records began about 500 years ago.
At Grafenwöhr, according to Senior Airman Dominick Martin of Detachment 7, 7th Weather Squadron, temperatures have averaged about 44 degrees compared with a historical average for December of 33 degrees. Friday saw temperatures at the base soar to a balmy 52 degrees.
The relatively pleasant weather has seen workers race ahead with the Efficient Basing Grafenwohr (EBG) project that, according to project spokeswoman Susanne Bartsch, will see the base grow from a 1,000-soldier garrison with 2,000 military family members to a brigade-sized facility with 4,500 active-duty soldiers and 7,000 family members over the next few years.
Andrew Spendlove, chief of the EBG cell that works with between U.S. officials and German contractors and government engineers, said the warm weather has helped construction projects ranging from houses to roads, new and renovated barracks, two schools, company headquarters buildings and motor pools and the Army’s largest post exchange in Europe.
“The lack of snow is a big boon,” he said, adding that workers are making intense efforts to enclose two barracks buildings near the new physical fitness center before winter snow comes.
“Snow causes a halt to outdoor construction. You can’t lay pavement on frozen ground because it would adhere and you get a separation,” he explained.
The lack of snow and smart thinking by contractors has allowed several other EBG projects to finish ahead of schedule, Spendlove added. A large traffic circle was finished this week, relieving local drivers who had faced detours for the past two months.
The roundabout was supposed to be complete by Dec. 21 but was finished ahead of schedule after the contractor suggested diverting all traffic from the route for two weeks instead of leaving one lane open for a longer period.
Two parking lots nearby — with more than 600 parking spaces — were turned over to the Army on November 15, six weeks ahead of schedule, he said.
“The barracks area will eventually be a car-free zone. It is an experiment to turn an Army barracks area into a campus like environment,” he said.
By the time all the work is finished, Grafenwöhr will have nearly 4,000 parking spaces in 16 new parking lots. Each barracks has its own parking lot, but most soldiers will be able to walk to work or the exchange, he said.
EBG involved building about 6 miles of new roads, including a 2.5-mile road to Netzaberg, he said.