Post's personnel asked to carpool

Fort Gordon is joining other Georgia military bases considering organized carpooling that would reduce air pollution and ease bottlenecks at security gates for the post's 20,000 weekday commuters.

"It will be looked at early in 2008 by our garrison command," said James Hudgins, the post's public affairs officer. "It is something every installation, not just the ones in Georgia, were asked to look at."

Similar programs are being organized at other Georgia bases -- including Fort Benning and Robins Air Force Base -- by Georgia's Clean Air Campaign, which works to reduce air pollution and offers incentives to prospective carpoolers.

Kevin Green, the campaign's director, told The Associated Press that single-car commuters who give up their daily drive can get $3 a day -- as much as $180 in three months. Carpool groups can receive as much as $60 a month for a year.

"Carpooling is good for everyone because it cuts down on traffic and helps the environment," Mr. Hudgins said. "It could be particularly helpful here, because, other than our students, the majority of our military families live off post because of the availability of quality housing."

Augusta is also one of several Georgia cities under scrutiny by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because of its precarious compliance with the federal Clean Air Act.

Although Augusta remains in compliance, it often hovers near threshold limits of ozone and other pollutants and was the first Georgia city to sign an "early action compact" that includes a pledge to work to reduce air pollution.

Mr. Green said that more than 1,500 soldiers and employees at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Ga., filled out applications for the program during a weeklong event in October, and another 200 have signed up this month in Fort Benning near Columbus, Ga.

"Both facilities have parking shortages," he said. "And there's a compelling challenge with a lot of vehicles coming on the base, security and limited parking."

Associated Press reports were used in this story.

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com