Marines scramble to house influx of recruits

BEAUFORT -- Recruiting future Marines to Parris Island hasn't been a problem -- it's finding a place to house them that has proven tricky for the depot.

Massive sections of modular buildings on flatbed trailers have lined the off-ramp to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in recent weeks as the depot begins to construct temporary facilities to house an increasing number of recruits.

A U.S. Department of Defense initiative to grow the Marine Corps to 202,000 by 2011 has put additional pressure on the depot's infrastructure, especially the recruits' living quarters, said David Woodward, an architect working in the depot's public works and engineering department.

Woodward said the department received approval from the Corps early this year to begin designing 16 temporary barracks.

"We designed the barracks in January, and by early March, we had begun the contracting process," he said. "This has been a pretty involved, high-speed process."

Each of the barracks is designed to sleep 88 recruits and will cost about $800,000 each. The money comes from a Defense Department fund for special projects. The project carries a price tag of about $13 million.

The Defense Department awarded the

contract to Hightower Construction of Charleston, which has begun preparing the sites where the temporary barracks will be built.

In mid-July, flatbed trailers towing 150-by-50 sections of the barracks began arriving from Lumberton, N.C.

Standing outside the first quartet of complete barracks near Weapons and Field Training Battalion, Woodward said the amenities inside the temporary barracks will mirror those of the depot's permanent recruit housing.

"They've got air conditioning, showers, toilets, washing machines," he said. "They're built to code; they're designed to withstand a flood, a hurricane and anything else that nature can throw at it. The modulars are exactly like the barracks across the street; they're just not permanent."

All of the temporary barracks are expected to be built and operational by the end of October, Woodward said.

The trailers are expected to last five to seven years while the depot designs and contracts the work to build new barracks for each of the recruit battalions, starting with the 3rd Recruit Battalion, which uses the oldest facilities at Parris Island.

The government has begun accepting contract bids for the project, and the depot expects to see building under way within two years.