Fort Gordon gate schedule will return to normal

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 2:32 PM
Last updated Thursday, July 18, 2013 2:17 AM
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Fort Gordon’s gates will resume normal operations Thursday morning, officials said Wednesday.

The announcement brought much-needed relief to a furloughed guard force that at times lacked the manpower needed to clear the 40,000 vehicles that estimates show enter the Army post daily.

The change in gates hours – the third in 10 days – resulted from a policy clarification the Department of the Army issued last week, allowing Fort Gordon to use military personnel for gate access control, spokesman J.C. Mathews said.

Previously, the Defense Department prohibited local commanders from diverting military personnel away from normal duties to fill in for furloughed guards and make up the lost overtime hours required to operate the gates on their normal schedules.

The start of an 11-day civilian furlough on July 8, however, left Fort Gordon’s five gates shorthanded, backed-up traffic for miles, and left local officials scrambling to create a long-term plan to better handle the daily commute.

On Wednesday, Mathews said help is on the way.

“About 20 to 25 service members from various units on post will augment the guard force and the military police to operate the gates,” Mathews said in a news release. “These soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines underwent training prior to the furlough to ensure that appropriate security procedures continued to be followed for installation access.”

Thursday’s return to order will cap a hectic 10 days at Fort Gordon.

Post officials had to convene emergency meetings July 8 to devise a plan to ease congested traffic at security gates, which – because of civilian furloughs – lacked the guards needed to handle lines of commuters that stretched more than three miles at times.

When news broke in May that the Defense Department planned to furlough civilian employees 11 days to make up $37 billion in cuts from sequestration, Mathews said, Fort Gordon began to train military personnel to fill in for the 35 security guards subject to unpaid leave.

The plan was overruled, though, and at the start of furloughs July 8, Fort Gordon closed all gates except 1 and 5. As a result, cars and commercial trucks extended from Gate 1, the primary entrance, past Wrightsboro Road near Interstate 20, at the height of the problem.

The gridlock left some people reporting to work two hours late and officials scrambling to create a long-term plan.

Fort Gordon redistributed some guards and military policemen to reopen Gate 2 – a commercial entrance that could help control tractor-trailer deliveries – during morning and afternoon commuting hours.

Col. Robert Barker, Fort Gordon’s garrison commander, thanked area motorists.

“We appreciate the patience of our Fort Gordon community as we work through the issues resulting from the furlough of our civilian employees,” Barker said. “We’re also grateful for the support of our Central Savannah River Area neighbors; we know our gate issues affected them as well. As in this change at the gates, we’ll keep looking for ways to maintain service to our community while the furlough continues.”

GATE OPERATIONS STARTING THURSDAY

Gate 1: Open 24 hours a day

Gate 2: Open from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; closed on weekends

Gate 3: Open for commercial traffic 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday; closed on weekends

Gate 5: Open from 4:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. each day

Comments (8) Add comment
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nocnoc
45048
Points
nocnoc 07/17/13 - 02:48 pm
6
1
I am sure the new policy

has nothing to do with the fact that most people believe it was just a Political Sequester stunt and could have been avoid from the get go.

TheGeorgian
432
Points
TheGeorgian 07/17/13 - 03:04 pm
4
0
Don't want to be unfair

Don't want to be unfair to civilians or see them lose their jobs but way back in the 1960s when I was in the service it was military who guarded gates, MPs for the Army and SP for the Navy. Don't they have Military Police or Shore Patrol any more?

BillC1
49
Points
BillC1 07/17/13 - 07:26 pm
3
0
Stunt

This was nothing but a stunt. Could have been avoided from the beginning.

studmuffin1533
294
Points
studmuffin1533 07/18/13 - 06:48 am
1
0
Command Failure

The brass knew this was coming long ago and had plenty of time to get the EMs trained up to take over the gates. How much training does it take to compare a face to a driver's license and say "Welcome to Fort Gordon"?
The garrison commander needs to be relieved over this drama.

CobaltGeorge
164902
Points
CobaltGeorge 07/18/13 - 06:50 am
1
1
Hey All,

Something had to be done to keep the Air Force 1 flying, Right?

studmuffin1533
294
Points
studmuffin1533 07/18/13 - 11:16 am
1
0
Air Force 1

I'm sure AF-1 is costing us a million $$ an hour. What do the Thunderbirds and Blue Angles cost us, with no benefit to the taxpayer? If the US reduced its military budget by 85%, we would still have the largest military budget in the world.
My point is that there is a tremendous amount of waste and has been since the Eisenhower administration.

Watermedic
292
Points
Watermedic 07/18/13 - 12:56 pm
1
0
Why??

When I was in the Navy in the 90s, the military handled guard duty. If they cant be trusted to handle that simple operation, how can we expect them to do a proper job any where else.

To outsource any service on any base is absolutely nuts!! Why dont we outsource the jobs that our troops are performing overseas and get our folks back home?

Darby
26945
Points
Darby 07/18/13 - 11:50 pm
1
0
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