ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Many installation residents would like to see the MD 22/Harford Boulevard gate open at night and on weekends. The gate currently is open 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday; closed Saturday, Sunday and federal holidays.

Director of Emergency Services, Christopher Ferris, said the amount of vehicle traffic, based on a previous survey and current traffic entering and exiting the MD 715 Gate does not meet the threshold to open additional gates or lanes and is not significant enough to justify overtime hours in this fiscally constrained environment.

The first consideration, Ferris said, is that the number of available police and guards on installations has reduced over the years which mean DES has to prudently manage its human resources to meet peak commuter traffic times.

Another consideration is that the MD 715 gate is the only gate capable of handling commercial vehicles, visitors and ID card holders as well. "We realize the inconvenience and we're working on a solution but it will take time," he said, noting one eventual goal is to secure the MD 715 gate so it can actually be closed and make the MD 22 gate a 24-hour gate. Traffic Division Chief Joseph Davis said the survey numbers were well below what is needed to justify putting two police officers on the gate. For example a typical 8 p.m. to midnight, Friday to Sunday, inbound vehicles numbered 268 Friday, 214 Saturday and 146 Sunday, while outbound vehicles numbered 259 Friday, 150 Saturday and 114 Sunday. Davis said more than 425 vehicles per hour would have to move through the gate to meet the requirement for an additional lane to be opened, not even an additional gate. "To keep one lane open requires two people but there's not enough traffic for one, let alone two," Davis said.

Still, according to Ferris, all is not lost. The third consideration is in fact to close MD 715 and move everything -- Visitor Center and commercial vehicle inspections -- to the MD 22 gate. Ferris said the idea is being considered by the garrison commander in conjunction with the Garrison's Directorate of Public Works. With the construction that will be required that option will take some time, Ferris added. Also in the discussion phase, however, is a plan to transition to the Automated Installation Entry (AIE) system, already in use at some Department of Defense sites like Fort Campbell, Ky. and Fort Gordon, Ga. In fact, five installations use the AIE which is slated to go Army wide.

The mission of the AIE is to enhance security at installation access control points by automating authentication of authorized and registered personnel entering the installation. The AIE is designed to enable adaptation of increased authentication requirements at threat levels and increase guard force effectiveness while maintaining or increasing personnel and vehicle throughput.

If the AIE becomes a reality at APG, the new system may seem an inconvenience at first as it will require construction to install the card readers, barrier arm gates and computer software at the access control point lanes as well as mandatory on-post vehicle registrations for all ID card holders. In addition, the AIE provides real-time vetting of credentials against authoritative databases, and its architecture is scalable to accommodate additional security features, which means it will free up police officers to do more to improve the overall security of the installation.

The AIE system is currently being briefed to the Garrison commander. Look for updates about this and other access control point issues in future editions of the APG News.

Page last updated Mon September 23rd, 2013 at 00:00