As President Barack Obama has recently gone on the defensive of his federal spending package he signed in February, proposed stimulus-funded military base projects are sprouting up across California.

The Department of Defense was granted approximately $7.4 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) – which accounts for less than 1 percent of the $787 billion total.

A southern California marine base plans to use a piece of that funding to upgrade a facility that currently serves 151,000 Marines, family members and retirees. A new naval hospital at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base, located between Oceanside and San Clemente, estimated at $563 million will see construction in 2010.

Officials at the military base have recognized the need of a new hospital since 2004 when Navy health facility planners recommended replacement of the existing naval hospital – which has a staff of 2,148 – with a new structure because the old facility could not be cost effectively retrofitted to meet the new seismic standards, said Riley Whaling, Camp Pendleton public affairs officer.

“This upgraded facility will promote and sustain a healthy force, ready to deploy when called as well as continued health care for our military families,” Whaling said.

The average daily inpatient census is 35, and 1,850 outpatients are seen each day. The new hospital will be 500,000 square feet.

Speeding Up Construction

The contract for the hospital had been awarded to support construction in 2012.

President Obama visited California in March and announced that stimulus funds would help pay for the hospital, which has helped speed up the construction process. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation analysis is expected to be completed by fall 2010 with construction to begin in late 2010.

“The building should be complete in 2013 and fully equipped and operational in 2014,” Whaling said.

Legislation passed in 1994 (SB 1953) requiring hospitals to comply with three seismic safety deadlines, one of which placed a deadline of 2013 when all general acute-care inpatient buildings at risk of collapsing during a strong earthquake must be rebuilt, retrofitted or closed. By 2030, all hospital buildings in California must be operational following a major earthquake.

The current facility would fall short of meeting these requirements.

“NHCP [Camp Pendleton] hospital met the 2002 standard [that all major non-structural systems such as backup generators, exit lighting, etc. must be braced] but cannot be easily retrofitted to meet the 2013 standards,” Whaling said. “Medical and technological advancements have reduced inpatient requirements over the years, while generating new requirements for ambulatory surgery and family centered obstetric care. The new facility will provide advanced outpatient services, with a patient and family centered inpatient design.”

URS Corporation has been awarded a contract to provide the NEPA.

The NEPA evaluates the project’s potential effects on everything from biological resources to traffic.

To complete the NEPA analysis by the fall of 2010, URS will, among other studies, send biologists to perform plant and wetland surveys and sampling for the San Diego fairy shrimp (more here).

Army Corps of Engineers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District is serving as the “construction agent” for 39 ARRA-funded military construction projects ranging in scope from $40,000 sidewalk repairs to $3.9 million in airfield taxi lights repairs. The Los Angeles District of the Army Corps has been put in charge of $43 million in stimulus-funded projects.

“They are all basically a backlog of infrastructure repair needs,” said Jay Field, chief public affairs officer, Los Angeles District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “These are the things they need to keep the base functioning properly.”

As the “construction agent,” the Army Corps doesn’t determine what projects are funded and constructed, but assist with scoping of projects.

They also develop cost estimates and select businesses to contract construction aspects of ARRA-funded projects. Edwards Air Force Base, for example has 24 ARRA-funded projects under oversight of the Army Corps. All of the projects (mainly infrastructure) will be contracted out to small businesses by the end of June, said Debra Ford, chief of military programs for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Los Angeles District.

“We’ve been very busy on refining scopes and more recently negotiating the contracts,” Ford said.

The total stimulus funds being used at Edwards is $26.8 million. In addition, the Army Corps is contracting out seven projects at Fort Irwin National Training Center totaling $8.6 million and six projects at Vandenberg Air Force Base also totaling $8.6 million.

“This will help the military, but also provides the jobs that our economy needs to get reenergized,” Field said. “We do know how critical small business are and of course we have small business goals that we try to meet, and in this case every one of those projects at Edwards is being awarded to a small business.”

After contracts are awarded, the Army Corps provides project oversight. “Quality assurance representatives” will be on hand to project supervision.

“Construction staff is on the site to ensure that they actually execute the project per the contract and meet all the technical requirements,” Ford said.

The Army Corps Los Angeles District is also managing $184 million in ARRA-funded
civil works projects.

Field said the Army Corps expects to create approximately 11,500 direct jobs for every $1 billion

“We also anticipate indirectly creating an additional 14,900 jobs for each $1 billion spent in industries supplying or supporting construction and O&M [operation and maintenance] activities and the industries that sell goods and services to these workers and their families workers and their families,” Field said.

For more information on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and ARRA funds click here.

Blake Ellington can be reached at