FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- A change in the operating hours of Newton and Faulkner gates should help Aviation personnel - including Soldiers, civilian employees and contractors - have reduced travel time to and from work.

The Newton and Faulkner gates at Fort Rucker are now open from 4:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., which went into effect March 28.

Gate hours were extended to open a half hour earlier and close a half hour later, Directorate of Public Safety officials said.

"Personnel working directly with flying and maintenance missions arrive early in the morning, and previously they had to take alternate entries to post because their work schedule began before the Faulkner and Newton gates were open," said Marcus McDougald, director of Public Safety at Fort Rucker.

"With earlier gate openings, people's commutes may be shorter, and the change in hours will reduce travel times for some personnel and may also help reduce the amount of gas used.

"The purpose of this one-hour increase is to better support the Aviation training mission."

He went on to say that many who are new to Fort Rucker or had previously been stationed here before often wonder why Faulkner and Newton gates are not open 24 hours, seven days a week as they were several years ago.

After 9/11, the Army began funding installation gates with contract guards, spending hundreds of millions of dollars across the Army to meet this security mission, he said.

The Army discovered that many installations had multiple gates and were keeping those gates operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, often without regard to the amount of traffic using those gates--especially at night and on weekends, McDougald added.

Based on Army-developed funding metrics, the Army discovered there were huge savings to the government by reducing the number of guards at installations, or in some cases closing access control points altogether when the traffic flow was minimal, he said.

As a result of the Army traffic study and other funding metrics, Fort Rucker was required to reduce hours at some gates or even consider closing them in order to live within the funding allotted for the guard mission.

"Faulkner and Newton secondary gates had the least amount of traffic using them," said McDougald. "The commanding general at Fort Rucker at the time directed reducing the hours at these two gates so we could live within our budget.

"We have now transitioned to Department of the Army civilians at these two gates and, therefore, we're able to reduce some costs to the government," he added. "This transition enables us to increase the gate operational hours at Faulkner and Newton Access Control Points with no increase in cost to the government."

According to McDougald, most personnel who commute to post are happy with the extension of gate hours.

"I can get more done on post before and after work without having to worry if the gate will be closed and I'll have to use another," said Jack Duluoz, a contractor at Fort Rucker. "It definitely makes my commute shorter in the mornings."

The last traffic survey measured inbound traffic at the two gates. Faulkner gate averages about 1,300 vehicles per day, with Newton averaging around 825 per day.

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