Fort Gordon gates return to normal hours - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Fort Gordon gates return to normal hours

Posted:
Source: Rachel Moore (WFXG) Source: Rachel Moore (WFXG)
Source: Rachel Moore (WFXG) Source: Rachel Moore (WFXG)
Fort Gordon, GA (WFXG) -

UPDATE:

Fort Gordon's gates will return to their normal hours of operation Thursday morning as a result of new policy guidance that allows military personnel to substitute for furloughed civilian gate guards.

Previously, policy guidance from the Defense Department prohibited use of borrowed military manpower, or military personnel diverted from their normal duties, to fill in for furloughed guards and make up the lost overtime hours that were required to operate the gates on their normal schedule.

However, Department of the Army issued a policy clarification on July 12 that permitted use of borrowed military manpower for gate access control.

Beginning with Thursday morning's commute, all Fort Gordon gates will return to their previous operating schedule:

-          Gate 1 will be open 24 hours each day, seven days a week.

-          Gate 2 will be open from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. It will be closed on weekends.

-          Gate 3 will reopen for commercial traffic from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. It will be closed on weekends.

-          Gate 5 will be open from 4:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., seven days a week.

"We appreciate the patience of our Fort Gordon community as we work through the issues resulting from the furlough of our civilian employees," said Col. Robert Barker, garrison commander. "We're also grateful for the support of our Central Savannah River Area neighbors; we know our gate issues affected them as well. As in this change at the gates, we'll keep looking for ways to maintain service to our community while the furlough continues."

About 20 to 25 service members from various units on post will augment the guard force and the military police to operate the gates. These Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines underwent training prior to the furlough to ensure that appropriate security procedures continued to be followed for installation access.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Bumper to bumper traffic, cars moving at a snail's pace, and a little road rage. This is the morning chaos drivers are dealing with around Fort Gordon.

 "I've been in traffic for two hours now coming from Grovetown," said Forest Pavel, a soldiers on his way to the installation. "It takes me usually about 12 minutes to get on post."

"The traffic is backed up to the gate in Grovetown," said Tregony Fletcher, a commuter from Grovetown, who was not even trying to get on post. "It's ridiculous how far the traffic is. I mean, they need to open that gate back up."

The congestion around Fort Gordon's main gate is because officials closed off Gates 2 and 3, which are normally open at 4:30 in the morning. Furloughs are to blame for the closures. Budget cuts are forcing security guards and other civilian employees to take one day off each week for 11 weeks. Furloughs are also preventing overtime, which was a normal shift for security guards. Now, there's just not enough manpower to keep these entrances open.

"Our intention was to make use of military personnel that we had trained to come out and manage the gate during the furlough days while the gate guards were out, but we learned last week that would be a violation of DOD policy: to divert them from their normal duties to work at the gate in place of furloughed civilians," said J.C. Matthews, Fort Gordon Public Affairs Officer.

"I'm a student at Georgia Regents, and it's ridiculous," Fletcher said. "I have to get to school at 9 and I'm stuck in traffic."

But after this morning's headache, officials at Fort Gordon are making changes and reopening Gate 2 in the morning and afternoon staffing it with a guard from Gate 1 and 5; a solution with hopes to unclog some of the traffic flowing into the main gate and to ease frustrated drivers around the installation.

Original:

Due to the furlough of Fort Gordon's Department of Defense employees set to begin next week, only Gate 1 and Gate 5 will be open for traffic to enter and exit the installation beginning Monday.

Gate 1 is the installation's main entrance, accessible from north of the installation via the Jimmy Dyess Parkway. Gate 5 is accessible via Tobacco Road on the southeast side of the installation.

Until further notice, all other gates, including Gate 2 (off East Robinson Ave. in Grovetown) and Gate 3 (for commercial traffic) will be closed. Commercial vehicles must enter the installation through Gate 1.

While the other gates are closed, Gate 1 will be open 24 hours a day, seven days each week. Gate 5 will be open from 4:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. each day.

The gate closures are required because Department of the Army security guards will be furloughed one day each week, and overtime cannot be used to make up the lost hours. As a result, the installation does not have enough guards to keep all gates open. Under current Defense Department policy, military personnel cannot be used to substitute for civilian employees who are furloughed.

The closures will be in effect starting at 4:30 a.m. Monday morning. Installation officials urge the Fort Gordon workforce and local area motorists to plan for traffic delays in the areas near Gate 1 and Gate 5, since all traffic entering and leaving the installation will converge on those two access points.

"We regret the inconvenience that this may cause our residents and workforce as they enter and leave the installation," said Col. Robert A. Barker, Fort Gordon garrison commander. "We also regret the disruptions to local traffic this may create. However, while the furlough is in effect, we have no alternative to closing these gates. We will return to normal gate operating policies as soon as possible."

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