Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, said it was a testament to perseverance.
Members of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation and military officials from across the region Friday attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the long-awaited Moon Township military commissary.
The 43,000-square-foot facility, set to open in the fall of 2013, will house a grocery store for more than 170,000 military members and their families in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
The regional hub will be located at the corner of University Boulevard and the Interstate 376 Business Route in Moon and will more than double the size of Oakdale's Charles E. Kelly Commissary, which is slated to close.
The to bring the new commissary to Moon has been in the works since 2005, when the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission targeted the Oakdale commissary for closure.
Officials at the event described years of bureaucratic hurdles that often stalled the project.
The Defense Commissary Agency in 2008 gave initial approval for the Moon commissary project, but construction was delayed while additional funds were secured.
In December 2011, the state's congressional delegation announced that more than was freed for the new post.
"Folks from western Pennsylvania just don't know how to take no for an answer," said Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills. "There are no Republicans and Democrats when we are working for our troops in western Pennsylvania."
Earlier this summer the Mississippi-based Carothers Construction was a $12 million contract to serve as the prime contractor on the project.
The commissary, which will sit directly in front of the U.S. Army Reserve base off Soldiers Lane, will mark the latest addition to Moon Township's military community.
A $10 million Naval Operations Support Center is scheduled to open in 2014 on the grounds of the neighboring Air Force Reserve 911th Airlift Wing Base, also located off the Interstate 376 Business Route.
Members of Congress often referenced the planned commissary while countering Defense Department efforts to shutter the 911th Airlift Wing earlier this year.
"We've got to keep that base open," Murphy told audience members at the ceremony. "We've seen huge levels of civilian support (for the 911th)."
"There's a lot of enthusiasm for this project," said Maj. Gen. William D.R. Waff, commanding general of the 99th Regional Support Command. He said having the commissary located in Moon Township could lead to increased use of the facility.
"It's going to pull everybody back together."