CHERRY POINT, N.C. — Patrons visiting the Exchange and Commissary aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point are finally able to travel through the parking lot without potentially damaging their vehicles.

That’s thanks to the combined efforts of the Resident Officer in Charge Florence Cherry Point staff and contractors.

“The original parking lot was outdated, exhibited drainage issues and featured two large concrete swales running transversely through the drive aisles, which took many vehicle undercarriages victim,” said Chad Jeffords, construction manager for ROICC Florence Cherry Point. “Hurricane Florence fully exposed the poor soil subgrade and drainage issues.”

What originally seemed like a general rejuvenation and drainage upgrade project turned out to be a bit more challenging. The team encountered unsuitable soil subgrades throughout the parking lot, which had the potential to push the project completion time further and further out.

“We were able to overcome these obstacles by prioritizing and quickly executing associated solutions and contract modifications, keeping the schedule progressing towards the finish line,” said Jeffords.

He credits Mark Fitzgerald, Engineering Technician, ROICC Florence Cherry Point with making sure any problems didn’t become showstoppers.

“Without his extensive pavement expertise, dedication and professionalism, this project would not have been nearly as successful,” said Jeffords.

The parking lot mill and overlay occurred in phases to allow patrons uninterrupted access to the shopping area. The process of removing the top layers and resurfacing is typically more cost efficient and can be completed quicker than a full parking lot reconstruction, though much of this parking lot required full depth remediation.

Not only was the vehicle hazard eliminated, but the original storm drainage system was also improved to ensure water doesn’t pool on the 270,000 square foot parking lot, which would threaten the integrity of the materials.

“We’ve heard countless praise from shopping patrons and [customers], regarding the enhanced function and appearance of the parking lot,” added Jeffords.

Internally, Jeffords and Fitzgerald are receiving praise for their attention to detail and focus on the timeline of the project. Matthew O’Brien, AIA, CSI, LEED, Supervisory Constriction Manager, ROICC Florence Cherry Point, credits much of the success of the project to their focus on the high volume of Requests for Information (RFI’s) coming about the unsuitable soils. Jeffords, with assistance from Fitzgerald, maintained a consistent line of communication between the contractor, subcontractor and ROICC Florence Cherry Point in order to provide information and process changes as quickly as possible.

On March 31, crews assembled to walk the entire parking lot as part of the final acceptance process for the project. Members of ROICC Florence Cherry Point joined with staff from the contractor and sub-contractor to identify any issues and discuss a timeline for fixing any discrepancies.

Although there are minor items to be completed, such as final markings of accessible parking spots and traffic control points, parking blocks and signage, patrons have full access to the entire lot.

The parking lot is part of OICC Florence’s mission to provide engineering, construction, and acquisition services supporting the Marine Corps’ recovery from the storm and deployment of the Joint Strike Fighter, re-establishing the readiness of expeditionary forces for Marine Corps Installation East and
II Marine Expeditionary Force.

The $3.6 billion in repairs and renovations the command is responsible for are scheduled for completion in 2026.