5th Ave. morning closure helps keep Soldiers safe
January 10, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (January 10, 2013) -- Fifth Avenue is the official run route for morning Soldiers and Family members doing physical training, but Fort Rucker officials say that many drivers are violating the no driving-no crossing policy.
Fifth Avenue is closed Mondays-Fridays from 5:30-7 a.m. for morning PT because it is the designated running route for Fort Rucker, according to Sgt. Maj. Marvin A. Pinckney, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence G-3 sergeant major.
Fifth Avenue is a protected road, which means no privately owned vehicles are allowed on the road whatsoever during those hours, but Pinckney said that bicycles are allowed on the road as a means of exercise and transit.
Though the policy has been successful for the past several years, installation officials have noted a spike in incidents where people have been caught driving on the road, either by Soldiers on the road or by the military police.
"The main issue is that individuals are not complying with the requirement to either not drive on Fifth Avenue or cross where it is blocked," said Lt. Col. Madeline Bondy, provost marshal and director of public safety on Fort Rucker.
Physical barriers are placed on the road to warn drivers not to cross, but Pinckney said some drivers ignore them and the many posted signs at the intersections.
"I have seen drivers myself drive right around the barriers to get on the road to just cross. There are alternate means to get across the road," he said.
There are only three designated crossing points during the morning run: Division Road, Red Cloud Road and Novosel Street.
Fifth 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 the sergeant major.
"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 a driver comes up to the street and realizes it is not safe to cross, Pinckney said if it is safe to turn around or to back up to avoid crossing Fifth Avenue, then do so.
"I would advise to do anything, safely that is, to avoid crossing the road," he said.
Though physical barriers are in place and signs are posted at almost every intersection stating the times during which the road is closed, people are violating the regulation for a number of reasons, said Bondy.
"People may not be following the regulations because of a combination of things. There may be some individuals who are just ignoring the requirements just to use the most expedient route to get from Point A to Point B," she said. "Some people know that they aren't supposed to drive on Fifth Avenue, but may not know that they can't cross it, and some people are new here and just might not have knowledge of it," she said.
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.
"It's dark in the mornings and it can be hard to see Soldiers," said Pinckney. "The worst-case scenario is that a person illegally crosses or drives on the road and strikes a Soldier, killing them. It's not only Soldiers that use the road in the early mornings, there are [Family members] as well."
Pinckney has advice for those who would 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.
The rules regarding Fifth 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.
An operational order was re-published at the end of 2012 updating the regulations on the driving policy, but Fort Rucker officials verified that no rules have changed.
"We rewrote it because it was old. It was only updated, [and] nothing has changed. The essence of the order is still the same. There was some old jargon in there that we cleared out because it has not been updated since 2007," he said.
For more information, call 255-2222 or 255-2511.