Tyndall Air Force officials are working out how they will execute a years-long series of construction projects to rebuild more than half of the military base.
“This is a construction program on steroids, and so we need to think differently about it,” said Gen. Patrice Melancon, executive director of Tyndall’s Reconstruction Program Management Office.
At Tyndall’s third Industry Day event since Hurricane Michael, officials updated business and community leaders on the progress of reconstruction at the base. They also discussed logistics, including details on where an estimated 2,000 construction workers needed for the rebuild will eat and sleep.
“You’ve got to have some place to house them,” Melancon said. “How do you get them from where they’re being housed and fed to the construction site? How do you get materials - from wherever they may be coming from - in and out of the base?”
About 300 of the 500 buildings at Tyndall are slated to be demolished and replaced with new facilities.
The entire rebuild - including demolition, design and construction - is estimated to take seven years to complete and cost $3 billion, Melancon said. Congress allocated $550 million in supplemental disaster assistance earlier this year to cover some of that cost.
“We’re hopeful that next fiscal year, we’ll receive another $700 million, but that’s still shy of that $3 billion mark.”
The timeline for completing the rebuild depends on the amount of funding the base receives and when those dollars arrive, Melancon said. But some projects are on a tighter deadline. For instance, the base will receive the first of three F-35 fighter jets on Oct. 1, 2023.
“There are some minimum facilities that we need to have in place ready to accept that first aircraft,” Melancon said. “We certainly can and will delay some of those second and third squadron facilities until later.”
The three fighter jets are estimated to create 400 jobs on the base after they’re installed, Melancon said.
Some damaged businesses along Tyndall Parkway were waiting for assurances that reconstruction would go forward before deciding whether or not to stay and rebuild their own properties, said Doug Moore, chairman of the Bay County Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee.
“We’ve got somebody who is a chamber member that has a business that is throughout the county, and one of their branches was over in the Callaway area,” Moore said. “They were waiting to see whether they were going to rebuild that location based upon on whether Tyndall was rebuilding or not.”