Morning road closure keeps Soldiers safe
Capt. Jason Umiamaka, B Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment and officer in charge of the detail, takes down the ropes that block drivers from crossing Ruf Avenue during PT times Jan. 6.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (January 9, 2014) -- Ruf Avenue, formerly known as Fifth Avenue, is the official run and bike route for Soldiers and Family members doing physical training, and, thanks to new safety measures, Soldiers are even safer than before when exercising.

Ruf Avenue is closed Mondays-Fridays from 5:30-7 a.m. for morning PT. The road detail begins closing the road at 5 a.m., said Sgt. Maj. Marvin A. Pinckney, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence G-3 sergeant major.

Ruf Avenue is a protected road during those hours, which means no privately owned vehicles are allowed on the road from 5:30-7 a.m. Vehicles on the road was a severe problem that Fort Rucker faced this time last year, but thanks to new concrete columns, reflective signs and bright ropes, Pinckney said that the problem of POVs driving on the road has dramatically decreased.

"The ropes were installed in 2013 as a more active measure to prevent vehicles from crossing where they are not supposed to," he said. "This has greatly reduced violations. I believe they are far more effective than the cones we previously used."

The old physical barriers that were placed on the road to warn drivers not to cross could be moved or ignored by some drivers, a system that no longer applies with the new safety measures, according to Lt. Col. Madeline Bondy, provost marshal and director of public safety on Fort Rucker.

Before these new measures were put in place, Bondy said that people were violating the regulation for a number of reasons, such as to just to use the most expedient route to get from Point A to Point B, but now it's much harder for people to ignore the safety measures.

"The regulations are in place specifically for the safety of the Soldiers that are running, walking and biking on that road during published PT times," she said.

There are still permanent signs on the road to warn drivers of the closure, and the ropes with new signs go up every weekday morning. There are only three designated crossing points during the morning run: Division Road, Red Cloud Road and Novosel Street.

"Our PT road is extremely active," said Capt. Jason Umiamaka, B Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment and officer in charge of the detail that puts up and takes down the ropes every morning. "This is the best safety precaution we have to keep Soldiers safe. We are very thankful that the ropes and columns were installed."

Ruf Avenue was chosen as the official run route because it is the straightest road, is well lit and is the road that officials and officers can control most easily, unlike Andrews or Red Cloud, according to Pinckney.

"We would choke up Fort Rucker if we chose a different road. It was determined many years ago that it was the best choice to have a protected run route," he said.

If drivers come up to the street, Pinckney said they should turn around or back up to avoid crossing Ruf Avenue if it is safe to do so.

Pinckney has advice for those who would still consider ignoring the postings when no one is around.

"Don't even think about it. It's dangerous. Just because no one is in the immediate area doesn't mean it's OK. It's about being disciplined enough to not disobey the rules," he said.

Violating the safety regulation can cause more damage than the citation and $55 fine.

"The MPs are out and patrolling the areas. Besides being ticketed, a driver could potentially have their driving privileges on the installation revoked," he said. "Plus, you could kill someone."

The rules regarding Ruf Avenue closings for PT are located in the Fort Rucker Blue Book that every Soldier receives upon arrival at Fort Rucker, according to the sergeant major.

"The blue book, or U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Pamphlet 600-2, has all the regulations on Page 22, Chapter 9, Paragraph 2," he said.

For more information, call 255-2222 or 255-2511.

Page last updated Thu January 9th, 2014 at 11:47