Long lines of vehicles outside gates at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base could soon be shortened if a traffic study currently underway is able to pinpoint the cause of the backups.
A gate study to measure inbound and outbound traffic patterns is being conducted by Wright-Patt’s 88th Civil Engineer Squadron’s traffic engineering section, according to the base. The study, which will be reviewed by leaders of Wright-Patt’s 88th Air Base Wing, will aim to help the base better manage its personnel and resources at gates.
“Long lines and delays at the gates have been occurring quite frequently … we are diligently working to find resolutions to help alleviate the long lines and wait time,” said Lt. Col. Aaron Rittgers, commander of the 88th security forces squadron.
Around 27,000 people go to work everyday at Wright-Patt, making it the largest single-site employer in the state of Ohio. The vast majority of Wright-Patt employees live off of the base and use six primary gates to enter it.
During rush hour, all available security personnel, staff and others are already assisting to move traffic through gates. The study is expected to determine which gate on the base has the most traffic from day to day, said spokeswoman Stacey Geiger.
Though the study will seek to answer how to best alleviate backups, they’re often caused by gate closures that don’t meet Air Force security standards, alarm activations, compressed work schedules and a lack of staggered reporting times, Rittgers said.
Since the study won’t be finished until later this fall, Geiger said it would be “pre-mature to speak to any adjustments that might be made” to cut down on long lines.
The base is asking employees to help when it comes to alleviating congestion just outside gates. People are required to have their ID cards examined when entering Wright-Patt, so it’s helpful if they have them ready to hand to security when they approach a gate, said Staff Sgt. Anson Soper, who is in charge of police services and crime prevention.
“Every commuter contributes to traffic, so it is up to all of us to ensure that we are not contributing in a negative manner to higher wait times at the installation entry points,” Soper said.
Security at the base’s gates is a top priority Rittgers said.
Just last year, Wright-Patt upgraded gate 19B on National Road at a cost of $1.3 million. The project was part of millions of dollars in planned improvements designed to thwart intruders to the base.
Construction to consolidate Gate 26A and Gate 16A, a commercial truck gate, cost $12.6 million and is expected to conclude by September 2019.
Due to “operational security concerns,” Geiger said she could not say exactly which gates had been updated in recent years to meet current security and safety standards. A number of security incidents that involved the base’s gates have occurred over the last few years.
• Earlier this year, the base temporarily shuttered all gates when an active shooter was reported at Wright-Patterson Medical Center. The incident was later deemed a false alarm.
• On March 2, 2017, security forces shut down entrances and exits temporarily in Area A, causing a traffic backlog, after an incident at Gate 12A off Ohio 444 near Air Force Materiel Command headquarters.
• In a November 2015 security breach, a Beavercreek man drove through Gate 22B and entered an Air Force Research Laboratory building on foot, causing an hours-long employee evacuation and a shelter-in-place order at a nearby child care center.
“First and foremost, the safety and security of the installation and the 27,000 personnel who come onto the base daily is our top priority, Rittgers said.
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