FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- When driving on post in the early morning hours, motorists might encounter Soldiers doing their morning physical training a bit earlier than they're accustomed to.

Ruf Avenue will now be closed to motorists from 5:15-7:15 a.m. Mondays-Fridays to allow runners and cyclists to conduct their morning PT unhindered, according Sgt. Maj. Shawn McKay, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence G-3 sergeant major.

The change in time is meant to help accommodate a surge in the dining facility since there is now only one facility available for the remainder of the year due to a major renovation, said the G-3 sergeant major.

During the early-morning PT hours, no privately owned vehicles are allowed on Ruf Avenue, except at designated crossing points located at Novosel and Ruf, Red Cloud and Ruf, and Division and Ruf where road guards are posted to allow vehicles to cross safely, which is the main reason for the road closure.

"The objective is to provide a safe place for Soldiers to conduct physical training that won't interfere with their safety and operations here on post," said McKay.

Ruf Avenue was chosen as the official run route because it is the straightest road, is well lit and is the road that officials can control most easily, according to the G-3 sergeant major.

"Ruf Avenue is one of the main thoroughfares that run through the installation, and it's also easily accessible by all the units and where they conduct PT," he said.

Vehicles on the road were a severe problem that Fort Rucker faced in years past, but thanks to posting road guards and reflective cones, McKay said that instances of drivers crossing at non-designated areas have decreased.

"We have signs that are posted throughout the installation and we also put road guards at crossing points that allow the traffic to safely cross the road," said the sergeant major. "We also place cones in parking lots that run down Ruf Avenue."

The road closure is nothing new to long-time residents, but new arrivals to Fort Rucker might find themselves searching for a way across post. If drivers come up to the street, McKay advises them turn around and find a designated crossing point for the safety of the Soldiers.

Crossing at a non-designated crossing point can not only result in a citation from military police on post, but can also carry more serious consequences, such as endangering the lives of Soldiers, he said.

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

"As we know, especially during the winter, there are periods of low visibility, and any time there is a vehicle crossing at a non-designated point it raises the risk of injuring one of our Soldiers," said the sergeant major.

The policy is in place for the safety of Soldiers, and although it might serve as a minor inconvenience for early-morning drivers, McKay said it's a small price to pay to keep Soldiers safe.

For more information or questions regarding early-morning road closures, call 255-2222 or 255-2511.