WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Sheppard Air Force Base is moving forward with their main gate project after Wichita Falls city council passed the final piece of financing needed on Tuesday.
"This will be a really important piece of work to protect our 5,000 student airmen, our 201 aircraft, and about $3 billion dollars worth of training equipment," Chief of Public Affairs at Sheppard Air Force Base, George Woodward said.
For years the base has worked on improving their main gate security.
"We've been talking about it since 9-11," U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry said. "About the security as far as getting on the base. And now it's really happening.
All $5.7 million for the project has now been approved, allowing the base to move forward on design and construction.
"This really is the second piece to complete everything to help ensure good, long-term retention of our military installation and solidify the relationship with our region," Wichita Falls Planning Administrator, Karen Montgomery-Gagne said.
"When the base succeeds the community succeeds," Woodward said. "When the community succeeds the base succeeds. And as we work together and partner together it will make our whole community stronger."
The Air Force will pay $2.7 million and the 4A board $1.5 million, while the final $1.5 million will come from the state's Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant.
The project will include more lanes to alleviate traffic, beautification to the main gate, and most importantly security.
"This is one of their first impressions of the Air Force since they've joined," Woodward said. "So when they come in that main gate, what they see forms a long-lasting impression of what they've done and the commitment they've made. That main gate is our first line of defense. Our defenders that go out there every day and guard us and protect us deserve to have the best physical facilities they can to do their job."
Woodward said they are hoping to break ground sometime in 2018. A completion date has not been set.