More veterans eligible to shop at Fort Drum

The sign on Route 11 northbound in LeRay, welcoming people to the main entrance to Fort Drum. Watertown Daily Times

FORT DRUM — Fort Drum will receive funding for two sorely needed and long-sought projects under a $738 billion defense spending bill signed by President Donald J. Trump on Friday.

The funding — under the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — includes $21 million to fully renovate the Fort Drum railhead and $23 million for a new unmanned aerial vehicle hangar.

The railhead project will improve Fort Drum’s readiness for its missions, according to U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, who pushed for funding for the two projects.

Fort Drum’s current railhead is limited by spatial constraints which makes it challenging to support operations during the harsh winter months. The new hangar will house and properly service new Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Fort Drum has limited capability in place to simultaneously load and unload trains for mobilization, so multiple missions must be staggered and delayed. Loading trains for deployment often forces Fort Drum to hold inbound trains miles away in the town of Watertown’s rail yard.

The new railhead would improve loading operations by building 1.2 miles of new railroad loading tracks. The project also includes new ramps, a side loading area, protection measures from weather, improved lighting and a new Alert Holding Area, equipped with a cargo inspection building.

The new $23 million UAV hangar project includes constructing a new maintenance hangar for the platoons, something that Fort Drum is currently incapable of doing now.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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