The long-delayed process of moving forward with construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan took a step forward today when the Department of Homeland Security awarded the contract for construction of the Central Utilities Plant for the facility.
Construction of the 87,000-square-foot facility will take about two and half years. The money to build it, $40 million, was appropriated in Fiscal Year 2011 but release of the funds had been held up by a debate over whether the project should be scaled back.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts applauded the action. "This was the step we have all been waiting for and moves us further down the construction timeline. We will continue to work together to monitor each step in the process to ensure NBAF remains a top national security priority."
Sen. Jerry Moran called the confirmation of the contract "good news for Kansas" and said that without the capabilities NBAF will provide the country is at risk from foreign animal disease threats."
Gov. Sam Brownback said signing the contract to build the central utility plant is a confirmation of the commitment to build the entire laboratory.
Good news for Kansas
The Kansas delegation in the U.S. House was unanimous in support of moving ahead on NBAF.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who represents the second Congressional District of Kansas said that movement on the project is a sign the country can still recognize critical projects and find funds for them. "This facility is key to the fundamental responsibility of the federal government to protect its citizens and I am committed to continuing to do everything I can to help move this project forward," she said.
1st District Rep. Tim Huelskamp, who in the past had been less than enthusiastic in support of NBAF called the contract for the CUP a "significant and decisive step toward the construction of the facility." He went on to say it will deliver "much needed, long overdue research vital to the security of America's food supply."
Rep. Mike Pompeo of the 4th district called the contract welcome news for Kansas and the nation. "We have made great progress and I will continue working in Congress to ensure this important national security project is completed," he said.
3rd District Rep. Kevin Yoder said the announcement is more great news for the state. "With this agreement, Kansas will continue to take additional steps forward, and will finally begin construction on the Central Utility Plant that will power the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility. Starting construction will ensure NBAF is completed, and that Kansas continues its important national role in food security and animal health safety," he said.