Department of Defense security guard Rafael Laguerre checks identification cards Wednesday at Access Control Point 1.

Garrison officials don't anticipate fallout from the upcoming change at Access Control Point 1 on Lumpkin Road, but they'll continue monitoring traffic flow and adjust as needed.

Starting June 1, the gate will be open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. It will remain closed on weekends and holidays.

"The reduced hours are a necessity because we have to man 10 ACPs," said deputy garrison commander Chuck Walls. "Some decision had to be made to adequately man those other ACPs across Fort Benning."LTC Kevin Clarke, director of Emergency Services and provost marshal, said there's a "finite level of manpower" available for gate security.

"After careful study, we trimmed it down to the busiest hours at ACP1," Walls said. "It's really going to have a minimum impact."

Clarke said a weeklong scientific study was done at ACP1 to identify the largest surge in vehicles. Every vehicle was digitally counted.

With about 33,000 vehicles passing through Fort Benning's ACPs every day, it's a tool routinely used by officials to make determinations about traffic issues, he said.

"We found out we can afford one shift there," Clarke said. "We did it during the highest volume period."In the next couple of months, a "technical security solution" will be put in place at ACP1 allowing 24-hour outbound traffic, he said.

Walls said that should ease concerns of local merchants worried about a drop in business because of fewer motorists on South Lumpkin Road.

Officials will assess the change's effect on Fort Benning in the next six months to a year, he said. The garrison or city of Columbus could make adjustments. During major events on post, the gate can be kept open longer to accommodate larger crowds, Walls said.

Meanwhile, construction is under way for a new five-lane ACP that will access Harmony Church off U.S. Highway 27. The project is about 18 months away from completion.
"It's going to be bigger and better than the one on (Interstate) 185," Clarke said. "It will be a phenomenal facility, totally state-of-the-art."

Overall expansion at Harmony Church will bring a population boom to the area. But officials aren't certain how that will affect traffic patterns around Fort Benning.

"There are too many variables (and) a lot you can't predict," Clarke said. "That changes all your traffic. That's why we constantly measure it."

The buildup along Dixie Road in recent years created bottlenecks that caught planners off guard, Walls said.
He said workers will begin widening the road to four lanes sometime this year. Congestion also has eased since the relocation of Building 4 offices to Ridgway Hall.

"It's all about synchronization," Walls said. "There's so much growth going on at Benning that it's critical to make traffic part of the equation ... Even the slightest traffic jams can cause problems around post."

Clarke said construction and facility moves have a "ripple effect" on traffic streams.
"Every time you change those dynamics, you have to learn what the new traffic pattern will be afterward," he said. "Sometimes, we're behind the mission. It takes some time to adjust."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16