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Housing construction picks up momentum

Concrete finishers Tobias Acostia, left, Alajondro Bonabadis and Octabio 
Rodriguez finish a slab in Northwest Falcon Park.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Concrete finishers Tobias Acostia, left, Alajondro Bonabadis and Octabio Rodriguez finish a slab in Northwest Falcon Park. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Yates Construction equipment operator Ezra Bennett uses a trackhoe to dig trenches for sewer and drainage lines in Bay Ridge.

Yates Construction equipment operator Ezra Bennett uses a trackhoe to dig trenches for sewer and drainage lines in Bay Ridge.

The first homes under construction in Thrower Park are nearing completion.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

The first homes under construction in Thrower Park are nearing completion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, MISS. -- Signs of progress are evident in Thrower Park, Northwest Falcon Park and Bay Ridge, where the largest military family housing project in Air Force history is gaining steam. 

The $287.8 million project was launched in March in Thrower Park, which is beginning to look more like a neighborhood and less like a construction site. Thrower Park will be home to 198 junior enlisted families. 

As of Friday, homes numbered 1-66 have walls up on the first floor and homes 1-57 have walls on the second floor, according to Craig Merkerson, base housing program manager. 

Shingles are installed in homes 1-30. Sheetrock is in place on the walls and ceilings in homes 1-17. The siding is on or started on homes 1-21. 

Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing lines are roughed in for homes 1-17. 

"That means the ductwork is installed ready for connection to a grille or air conditioning unit; electrical wiring is pulled to each light, fan, appliance, outlet, and switch box or into the main panel," Mr. Merkerson explained. "Plumbing is run to each fixture location and valves are installed on water lines and capped from dirt and dust." 

The first three homes are near completion, and the first 36 units should be ready for occupancy in late March. Inspection of rough-in and framing is complete for homes 1-17. Curb and gutters are poured for the first construction area of Thrower Park, and forms for curbs are going in for the remaining areas. Initial landscaping and fencing work begins next week, and road asphalt work is scheduled to start in January. 

"We'll have prototype homes completed first -- one for each different floor plan in each housing area," Mr. Merkerson pointed out. "We'll take a hard look at these homes and point out any problems or changes so they can be corrected before work is finished on the rest of the units." 

In Northwest Falcon Park, where another 136 junior enlisted units are being built, the road base, sanitary sewer mains, storm drains, gas lines and electrical conduit work is finished and testing is being conducted. Half of the concrete foundations have been poured. 

Construction in Bay Ridge is being done in two phases. In the first phase, where 200 units are planned for officers and senior noncommissioned officers, site clearing and removal of shallow root vegetation is finished. 

"Now the contractor is installing sanitary sewer lines, cutting and backfilling roads," Mr. Merkerson said. "Grading for the first few pads is complete in the northern part of the site. Storm water drainage lines and manholes are also being installed." 

In April, work is slated to begin in East and West Falcon, where 364 units for junior enlisted members are planned. 

Bay Ridge's second phase of construction, which includes 130 units for chief master sergeants and officers, is expected to start in December 2008.