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Far East District to move 11 million cubic meters of soil to support US base expansion PDF Print E-mail
Monday, June 14 2010

By Patrick Bray,
FED Public Affairs

Seoul - A Korean War era military base is being transformed into the equivalent of a modern city and, as if not challenging enough, the land that it will be constructed on currently sits on low-lying, flood prone rice paddies. For the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Far East District this challenge is its greatest endeavor ever.

The current U.S. Army Garrison-Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, known as a "single soldier" installation throughout its history, is expected to grow to approximately 44,000 troops and family members within four to six years as a result of the Korea Relocation Program. The transformation entails major expansions and upgrades to all existing infrastructure including land development.

USAG-Humphreys today consists of only 1,210 acres. The Republic of Korea purchased 2,328 acres of adjacent land to accommodate the upgrades and eventually integrate seamlessly into the existing garrison making it the largest installation in Korea.

The land was sectioned into parcels for development with U.S. responsibility over Parcel 1 and Parcel 2A (775 acres). The ROK is responsible for Parcel K and Parcel 2B (1,553 acres) with FED providing quality assurance on U.S. projects and construction surveillance on the ROK contracts.

Richard Fontanilla of the USAG-Humphreys Area Office shared the following figures to help gain an understanding of the magnitude of the projects.

Total Construction Quantities

  • 11 million cubic meters of engineered fill
  • All new water, gas, sewer, and electric distribution systems, with associated treatment plants and substations for each utility totaling to about 40 miles each
  • New C4I (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence) will be 42 miles of trench and approximately 1000 miles of cable
  • Demolition of 339 outdated facilities totaling 1.9 million square feet
  • Construction of 641new facilities, totaling nearly 27 million square feet
  • 2.7 million cubic meters of concrete equal to about 456,900 ready-mix truck loads

Parcel 1 Alone

  • 3.2 million cubic meters of soil; enough to fill Hoover Dam once
  • Total truck miles hauling fill to the site is approximately 22 round trips to the moon
  • Fills the Empire State Building three times and fills every office in the Pentagon twice
  • Parcel 1 quantities only constitute 30 percent of the total required fill for all the new lands

The purpose behind such vast quantities of fill is that rice paddies previously occupied the land which were subject to annual flooding from the adjacent Anseong River. To make it usable and to meet the 100-year flood event elevation it must be filled with soil to a height of four meters (about 13 feet) above the level of the river

The fill required for the 2,328 acre new land site is estimated to be about 11 million cubic meters of engineered fill.

"Expressed in visual terms, that's about 50 Yankee Stadiums filled to the upper seat level with soil, and of course, with the soil being properly compacted in controlled earthwork operations," said Doug Bliss, FED Engineering Division.

Since groundbreaking in 2007, somewhere between 6 million to 8 million cubic meters of soil have been handled to date according to Greg Reiff, Area Engineer of the USAG-Humphreys Area Office.

"We have a lot of shuffling around of soil within the site," said Reiff. "That doesn't account for the 3 or 4 million we are going to rearrange in creating detention basins or when we took down an existing hill."

The current status of the project is that most of the land is still being raised as only 350 acres has been raised to the required grade by mid May 2010. That process requires the natural organic layer of soil to be scraped away from the bed of the rice paddy before any soil can be dumped into the hole. Once the foundation is prepared, fill soil is placed on top. The soil is brought in by dump truck and piled four meters high. To get the large amounts of fill necessary, contractors sub-contracted with other companies to haul away soil from their sites.

All projects are expected to be completed within four to six years. The final result will be a raised surface safe from flooding and ready to be a new home for troops and families.

"Years from now it is likely that most residents and the military and civilian work force at Humphreys will not realize the significant level of engineering effort expended to successfully develop the land," said Bliss. "However, future communities will continue to benefit from the prudent and professional engineering decisions and actions taken by the District today, turning flood-prone rice paddies into prime real estate at U.S. Army Garrison-Humphreys."