Feature Story

More feature stories by year:


Return to: 2008 Feature Stories


Sept. 17, 2008: Public Works.com


An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) initiated by the U.S. Army and conducted by MACTEC analyzed and documented environmental effects associated with the Army's compliance with the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process at Fort Sam Houston (FSH) and Camp Bullis, TX. The action is expected to generate substantial economic benefits for the City of San Antonio. Three MACTEC offices contributed to the EIS - Kennesaw, GA provided overall project management and technical support; San Antonio strategic support; and Knoxville, TN cultural resources support and a Phase I archeological survey.

Located in San Antonio, FSH was established in 1845 and has served as a headquarters, logistical base, mobilization and training site, garrison and medical provider. There are more than 800 historic buildings within the 2,940-acre installation. FSH is located within Loop 410 to the east of the city center and is surrounded by developed property, widely used highways and arterial highways. There is no room for land expansion and additional development is confined within the installation's border.

Camp Bullis is north of the city (about 20 miles northwest of FSH) and first opened in 1917. During World War II, the camp was an important venue for training troops stationed at FSH. In recent years, both installations have focused on training Army medical personnel.

The EIS evaluated the cumulative impacts from a wide variety of FSH activities. A targeted methodology was then developed for analyzing these activities. This consisted of determining specific locations of incoming activities with existing missions or base activities, and correlating these with resource issues such as existing historic districts, water usage, traffic flow, parking requirements and stormwater management.

To implement BRAC recommendations, FSH will be receiving personnel, equipment and missions from various realignment and closure actions with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The concentration of buildup of facilities and personnel will be in four mission-related subareas at FSH and the training area at Camp Bullis:

  • The patient care subarea due to the consolidation of the Air Force Wilford Hall Medical Center (WHMC) onto the Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) site
  • The medical research, development, testing and evaluation subarea collocated with the major patient subarea due to moving the directed energy research function from Brooks City base
  • The medical training subarea due to introducing additional students and instructors in the buildup of the Medical Education Training Center (METC)
  • The HQ and administration subarea due to additions and changes to the Fifth Army, the Sixth Army/U.S. Army South (USARSO) and 470th Military Intelligence (MI) functions; joint basing; relocation of Installation Management Agency (IMA) HQ and Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management field operating agencies; and relocation of ACA-Southern Hemisphere
  • Two training sites (approximately 130 acres total) in the southwest portion of Camp Bullis

The EIS analyzed and documented environmental effects associated with the Army's accommodation of BRAC process and other transformation activities at the installation associated with the 470th MI BDE, Fifth Army/ARNORTH and the Sixth Army/USARSO. Additionally, permanent facilities will be constructed or renovated to house the Army Modular Force (AMF) units at the aforementioned (they are currently are located in a mix of temporary and existing facilities).

Implementing the BRAC recommendations is expected to have no long-term, significant impacts on the environmental resources of FSH or Camp Bullis or their surrounding areas. Potential minor impacts to visual resources would generally occur only within the physical boundaries of FSH and would consist of new or renovated buildings within the viewscape in association with the historic district. No long-term significant impacts to earth (geology, topography, caves, karst features or soils), wetlands or biological resources (wildlife and threatened/endangered species) are expected at either installation.

Planned undertakings within the National Historic Landmark District (NHLD), including the demolition of existing buildings and construction of new buildings, will be reviewed at the time prior to implementation using the Installation Design Guide (IDG) historic review requirements. These documents are used to guide future activities at the base to assure that these actions comply with the overall design intentions for the base.

If demolition cannot be avoided as determined by base personnel, required mitigations will be assessed per the HPC SOP. Minor air, noise and transportation impacts would also occur during short-term construction activities under the preferred alternative at both installations and continue after final construction and occupancy as a result of increased population.

Most minor impacts could be reduced through proper engineering design, adherence to protective regulations and implementation of operations and management measures (such as conservation and waste minimization) after the facilities are occupied. Other Best Management Practices (BMPs) such as wetting down construction areas to minimize the release of fugitive dust would reduce or eliminate the potential short-term effects to the environment due to demolition/deconstruction and construction activities.

Implementing the BRAC recommendations will create substantial economic benefits for the local economy. According to a 2006 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) study, almost 5,200 jobs would be created or relocated to FSH and Camp Bullis, generating an estimated payroll of about $176M. The potential direct effect from the personnel relocation would also create an additional 12,915 jobs (both military and civilian work force jobs) and $15.5M in personnel earnings.

In addition, about 7.9 million square-feet of renovated/remodeled space and new construction will get underway at FSH and Camp Bullis between 2008-2015, representing about $1.8B in construction projects.

The EIS was completed in 12 months as opposed to a typical 24-month process enabling the Army to move forward with infrastructure facility planning, design, and development, in parallel with the NEPA process. The successful completion of the EIS also avoided funding delays that would have impacted the implementation of required improvements.

Return to: 2008 Feature Stories