Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Travis to Reopen Main Gate

Travis to Reopen Main Gate
By Ian Thompson

The new Main Gate at Travis Air Force Base is expected to open in mid-December after 15 months of construction. (Judith Sagami/Daily Republic)

TRAVIS AFB - Travis Air Force Base residents and visitors will get an early Christmas present this year - a new Main Gate.

Fifteen months after it was closed for renovation, the gate - where Air Base Parkway enters the base - is expected to be reopened by mid-December with improved security measures capable of stopping even a big-rig truck.

"It will be nice to use that gate again," said Marianne Bissell, an Air Force retiree from Dixon who uses the Base Exchange. "The Hospital Gate was nice, but the Main Gate will be easier."

With both gates open for the first time in nearly two years, "traffic is going to be moving through much faster," said Capt. Michael Shirley, operations officer for the 60th Security Forces Squadron.

"The new state-of-the-art gate will provide the latest and greatest force protection measures that have been implemented across of the Air Mobility Command," Shirley said.

All that is left to be done between now and the gate's opening "is a little finishing work inside," 60th Civil Engineer Squadron Mechanical Engineer Rick De Bernardi.

Even so, the base is planning to close the Main Gate's outbound lanes from Dec. 12 to Dec. 18, dates that could change depending on completing the work at the North Gate.

The base's hospital gate was the first to be renovated and created little more than a minor inconvenience for people getting on and off base during 2004.

Work on the Main Gate started in September 2004, shortly after the Hospital Gate was reopened with the contractor, the Parsons Corp., originally saying the work would be done by February.

"There were some design issues, some construction issues," De Bernardi said.

Disagreements between Parsons and the Air Force stalled work early this year until an agreement was reached and the reopening rescheduled to September, then October and now to mid-December.

The work on the base's gates is part of an Air Mobility Command-wide project to redesign all the entrances to all of the command's bases across the U.S. to improve security and vehicle access.

Some Air Mobility Command bases in northern parts of the U.S. recently completed their gate projects, while others such as Travis, are just finishing the work up, De Bernardi said.

Now, the Main Gate is almost finished and on track for a ribbon cutting ceremony later this month, De Bernardi said.

The $5 million project will have a new visitors center, more parking and a vehicle inspection area.

The biggest change will be a traffic-calming curve to slow down the traffic as vehicles approach the gate. A new vehicle screening facility where long-term visitors will get entry badges will join the existing visitors' center.

Near this will be a vehicle inspection facility where security forces can pull aside suspect vehicles to be examined from top to bottom.

The hydraulically operated pop-up barrier was designed by Delta Scientific Corporation for the Navy and is used at several U.S. embassies around the world.

Travis' North Gate was closed to traffic Monday to also have security barriers put in and is expected to open again by Dec. 12.

Once the Main and North gates are finished, there are plans to improve the facilities at the South, or Commercial Gate. But no time schedule has been set because that project has yet to get funding, De Bernardi said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

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