By Rick Scavetta
Improvements at the Patch Express gas station mean the pumps will close for several weeks, as construction workers dig down to underground tanks.
Work begins Nov. 11. Community members should use the Kelley Barracks gas station or off-post Esso stations during this time frame.
“It’s a fairly new development,” said Col. Jason Condrey, commander, USAG Stuttgart, during his weekly AFN Stuttgart radio interview. “The pumps will be down, starting in mid-November, hopefully for only five to six weeks. That’s going to have an impact on people.”
The Patch Express will remain open, albeit with reduced hours, said Michael Ryan, General Manager of the EUCOM Consolidated Exchange. The parking lot and one lane in front the Patch Express will also be open.
“Customers can also load their Esso cards at the Patch Express, so that they can be used at off post Esso’s,” Ryan said.
The nearest Esso stations from Patch Barracks is at Hauptstraße 136 in Vaihingen. Other Esso stations are located through Stuttgart, Leonberg, Sindelfingen and Waldenbuch. .
New pumps were recently installed at the Patch Express. Some months earlier, however, the German Technischer Überwachungsverein, or TÜV, inspected the Patch gas station and outlined safety repairs required to continue operation, said Jim Byrnes, from the garrison’s public works directorate.
“It’s primarily a safety concern,” Byrnes said, adding that environmental impacts were not the main focus of the TÜV inspection. “We’re lucky to have found a specialty contractor here in the general Stuttgart region to do the job now.”
Workers digging with heavy equipment will expose the tanks, remove fuel, excavate dirt and check for any contaminated soil. Once done, some parts will be replaced and upgraded before the area is restored to its original state.
“We want it be a safe fueling station,” Byrnes said. “These inspections happen in the U.S., too. Gas stations go down when there are findings.”
The upcoming time frame is the only time when these contractors are available. With winter setting in, they would have to delay the work due to weather and frozen ground. Delaying the work further could mean the gas station being shut down for even longer if the German government doesn’t see progress being made.
While the pumps are shut, military members who normally use the Patch gas station may have to plan ahead, said Command Sgt. Maj. Toese Tia, the garrison’s senior enlisted leader.
“Military members should be mindful of current off-post uniform policy, to plan for civilian clothes while fueling on the economy and sponsors should inform newcomers of the change, as most people picking up recently shipped cars at Panzer Kaserne tend to top off at Patch,” Tia said.