6th Ave Gate Traffic and Gate Guard Concerns
Published August 24, 2016
I would like to express my concern over the lack of competence by your contract security guards. The majority of your military gate guards are very nice and extremely good. However, there are times where your contracting support, and their leadership, lacks a fundamental understanding of mission and support. This morning (18 Aug) at 0715-0745, your contract support guard was stopping everyone at the 4- way stop sign to tell them the car is "over the line". By complaining and quibbling over the 3-4 feet people were "over the stop line" the incompetent contract guard backed up the gate entry to Airport Blvd in the west and almost 1/2 mile down 6th to the east. This was all during the peak entry hour to base. This demonstrates a complete mis-understand of the security forces mission, mission of Buckley AFB, and mission of the various agencies on base. As a result, it took 32 minutes to get onto the base; put into perspective, it took longer to get on the base, than it did to drive from Castle Rock to the base. I witnessed several near accidents on 6th avenue due to the back-up, as well as the force protection aspect of having hundreds of personnel sitting in a public road. I spent years as an officer in the operational bomber Air Force; I have been stationed at multiple bases with primary flight missions as well as deployed locations around the world. Fly-Fight-Win doesn't generally include stopping everyone for 30 minutes to "make a point" at a stop-sign. I have never experienced the level of incompetence and lack of 'big-picture" as I do here at Buckley. Again, it was NOT the military gate guards, they were actively checking ID's (almost all the way to 6th Ave) and ensuring cars were checked and had the ability to enter base. The problem was with the leadership and contract support holding up traffic at the 4-way stop.
I would also like to address the reason the contract guard felt the need to disrupt the mission of everyone on Buckley. The "stop-line" at the 4 -way stop at Steamboat and Aspen. Based on the way your jersey barriers, removable metal obstructions poles, and signage are at that intersection the sight-line from that intersection is completely blocked if you stop "behind" the line. The reason people stop forward (on top of the pop-up barriers) is so they can see the traffic and cars at the other sides of the intersection. It IS NOT that cars do not stop; it is that cars stop further forward - so they can safely get a view of traffic.
Suggested Corrective actions: 1) Remove the "final" cement jersey barrier just prior to the stop sign. This will both help oncoming base traffic to use both lanes at the stop sign (increasing traffic flow), but also aid in ability to visually see the traffic at the intersection. It would also allow the base to keep the other jersey barriers and serpentine for force protection. 2) Move the "stop -line" forward toward the intersection. This will also allow traffic to safely see across the intersection and increase the sight line for drivers. 3) Remind your contract forces and security leadership that the mission is force protection, and backing up incoming traffic for 3-4 miles on public roads (in harms way) is not worth making a point over 3-4 feet at a stop sign. Remind them of the "big-picture", that we can't Fly-Fight-or Win if we can't get on base; or remove them from employment.
First off, thank you for bringing up this issue through the Commander's Action Line. This is the intent of the program and I appreciate your trust in using the program to achieve positive change for our Buckley Air Force Base community.
As to your concern with the stop sign and delay at the intersection of Aspen Street and Steamboat Avenue near the 6th Ave Gate, thank you for your suggestions. Watershed events and evolving threats have certainly changed our world, and thus we've had to adjust our posture in many ways. The days of a rapid cursory checks of an identification card at our installation gates have evolved into data-based warrant checks, explosive detection equipment, canine support, and many other methods used to help counter ever-growing threats to our personnel and resources. I certainly empathize with your concerns over delays at our gates, and assure you we continuously work to minimize any/all unnecessary delays. As I am sure you understand, I also have the responsibility to ensure the safety and security of personnel and resources on the installation. Accordingly, we will continue to take all necessary and prudent measures to control base access and optimize our AT/FP posture. Our Department of the Air Force Civilian Police Officers are highly-trained and very capable officers, the majority of whom are veterans with substantial law enforcement experience. They are vital and valued members committed to doing a very difficult job under often less-than-optimal conditions. By asking you to stop at the stop sign prior to the limit line, not only are our Security Forces enforcing the law, but they are ensuring your safety from barrier activation that could become dangerous to you or others entering the base.
That said, I have asked our Security Forces and Civil Engineer leadership to look into interim solutions to improve visibility at that intersection while maintaining maximum force protection of the installation. Additionally, we are in the process of securing funds to completely redesign and restructure the 6th Ave Entry Control Point and associated traffic pattern to permanently improve this issue.
Again, thank you for your submission and I welcome any additional concerns via the Commander's Action Line.
Col. David Miller Jr.
Commander, 460th Space Wing