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21st CES addresses concerns, recommendations about north gate construction

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Traffic at all three gates on Peterson Air Force Base has become more congested as a result of the construction project at the north gate. It is always difficult to execute projects of this type, so we appreciate everyone's patience while we work to improve access and security for Peterson AFB.

The 21st Civil Engineer Squadron and 21st Security Forces Squadron are mitigating traffic impacts to the best of their ability and continue to evaluate additional measures that could ease congestion during the morning rush hours.

We have received a variety of suggestions from the Team Pete community. We evaluated each of them carefully, but have not been able to implement them for a variety of reasons.

Many have suggested making the north gate inbound access only during the morning. While this would allow two lanes of inbound traffic, it would hinder security forces and the fire department from responding to incidents at the gate or off-base within mandated timelines. The north gate is estimated to increase to two inbound lanes in early August as construction progresses.

Regarding the west gate, we contacted the Colorado Springs Traffic Engineering Department about the left-turn lanes from Powers Boulevard onto Airport Road. They have adjusted the signal timing at the intersection, increasing the time for southbound traffic to turn left onto Airport Road and for eastbound Airport Road traffic to cross Powers Boulevard. We will continue to work with the city to refine the timing during the course of the project.

One suggestion we cannot implement at the west gate is changing Airport Road east of Powers Boulevard to two lanes of inbound traffic. Airport Road is a city street that provides access to El Paso County offices as well as commercial businesses. Airport Road provides the only access to southbound Powers Boulevard from these locations. Also, traffic engineering studies have found that drivers are less confused if traffic patterns remain constant; they are less likely to be hesitant or make mistakes that cause accidents.

Traffic at the east gate may back up onto Marksheffel Road each morning as well, leading to a suggestion to open all four lanes at the east gate to inbound traffic. Although opening the two additional partial lengths of the outbound lanes at the east gate would allow vehicles to queue away from Marksheffel Road, the four inbound lanes then converge onto East Stewart Avenue. This would create a situation where up to four vehicles will try to enter traffic without a clear right-of-way, resulting in an inherently unsafe situation. In addition, the personnel that would be required to manage the traffic on a daily basis would put additional stress on available resources. The situation would also put those personnel at risk on the roadway without significantly increasing the rate of traffic moving through the gate.

Another recommendation made was to extend the contractor's work hours so construction could be completed faster. Unfortunately, we are unable to have the contractor work extended hours due to overtime labor rates, which are not budgeted or funded under the construction contract.

One way Team Pete organizations can help reduce the traffic burden is to implement staggered reporting times for their personnel. This option is open to commanders and supervisors, but is not mandated as each unit must determine how it affects mission requirements.

We know the frustrations the traffic congestion has caused and we appreciate everyone's patience as we continue our efforts to make Peterson AFB the best place to work, live and visit in the Air Force.

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