The Fort Bragg Directorate of Public Works is responsible for design, construction, maintenance and repair of all facilities, operations of utility systems, management of all environmental and disposal, natural and cultural resources programs, as well as providing centralized management for Army Family Housing, according to the Fort Bragg website.
As a part of these responsibilities, DPW prepares for and combats adverse weather conditions on Fort Bragg.
In preparation for winter weather, and with an expectation of approximately one inch of snow on Jan. 3, Fort Bragg’s DPW set part of their Winter Weather Plan, a series of pre-organized actions, into motion.
DPW began to treat roadways with a brine-salt solution. These treatments were intended to create a barrier between snow and the hard surface it falls on. The brine loosens snow, making it easier to move after the snow fall, according to DPW representatives.
If not carefully timed or used correctly, brine treatments, which are expensive, can fail to help in the way they are intended, explained Aaron Brown, operations and maintenance chief, DPW.
Fort Bragg experienced up to three times the expected snow last week. While the ground at Fort Bragg is usually warm enough to aid in clearing snow fast, last week’s low temperatures, both before and after the snow fall, complicated clearing the roads.
“With cold weather coming upfront, it made for a good condition for the snow to stick to the roadways quicker because, if your ground temperature is cold … it (snow and ice) will not melt,” said Brown.
DPW employed additional treatments of salt and sand to loosen hardened and compacted snow over the span of three days to clear priority roads. This treatment aided the DPW crew in clearing some of the frozen roads three times faster.
“The decision to keep the base closed was related to off-post conditions, not on post. It was the safety of getting people in, and that really is a testament to DPW’s actions in getting roads open,” said Eric Mitchell, deputy director, DPW.
According to both Brown and Mitchell, compared to surrounding communities and past storm events, the accident rate on Fort Bragg was very low.
DPW put a crew of 36 personnel into action to clear roads.
In addition to those 36 crew members, DPW received assistance from the 20th Engineer Brigade, who supplied both people and equipment to help move snow. The 20th Eng. Bde. helped to clear roadways on the outer loop that connects Fort Bragg’s training areas and some of the larger parking areas.
“There is a continuing strengthening of connective tissue between the 20th Engineers and DPW when it comes to recovery operations, and that’s been mutually beneficial,” said Mitchell.
“We can bring more equipment and manpower to bear on a situation because of those relationships.”
DPW also responded quickly to HVAC issues within barracks, prioritizing Soldiers’ living quarters; no barracks building went without heat for more than three hours.
“We make those a priority because they house the Soldiers,” said Brown.