PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - With minimal cost to Picatinny Arsenal by reusing equipment from Redstone Arsenal, Ala., security upgrades to one of the access-control points here were completed earlier this month to provide greater security for the workforce and military families.

The gate known primarily as "the Escape Trail" will be re-opened to incoming traffic only. It took two years from start to finish to completely refurbish the gate. Yet the value of the increased security cannot be measured.

"The gate you see today is standard practice across the Army,"Lt. Col. Herb Koehler, Picatinny's Garrison Commander, said during a low-key ceremony marking the official opening of the gate.
Koehler said he was happy to see the project completed.

"This is the first major project that I oversaw during my tenure here from start to finish," he said. Koehler assumed command of the garrison in 2010.

A climate-control guard booth and large canopy protect the guards from harsh weather and severe sun glare, which was often hazardous to drivers.

Guards are now protected from vehicles since they can now stand several feet off the ground on a raised traffic island.

Persons familiar with the access control point before the upgrades may remember that the entrance was rather narrow. The road has been reconfigured to allow for wider vehicles.

In addition, a larger electronically controlled gate has been installed.

While these may seem like standard upgrades, Picatinny Arsenal was one of the last installations to receive these modifications, thus providing a boost to forceprotection

"Before the gate even opened it survived an earthquake, hurricane, and a tropical storm," Koehler joked.

The area was hit hard within the last month by each of these natural disasters. Several cracks appeared in some foundations due to the quake and Hurricane Irene caused more than $600,000 in damage.

Redstone provided the canopy to Picatinny after Redstone was scheduled to receive additional funding for its own needs.

Because of the canopy's size, only a few installations like Picatinny could make use of it.