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Traffic flow, safety ‘important subject’ on, off post

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By Sandy Ashlock

By COL. BRUCE JENKINS
Garrison Commander

Response to Letter to the Editor

Traffic management is an important subject because of the necessity for people to be able to travel to and from Fort Knox safely and without significant delay. While Fort Knox has three primary entrance gates—the Chaffee (Main) Gate, Wilson Road Gate and Brandenburg Station Road Gate—a fourth gate, particularly one off of Highway 313 as Mr. Urbahns suggests, would indeed serve as an added benefit for the aforementioned purposes.  
We have been in contact with the commonwealth about options that may improve traffic flow, and one such option that’s being evaluated is the construction of a state road off of Highway 313 that would essentially run parallel to South Boundary Road and connect to Wilson Road near the Wilson Road Gate. I must stress that no plans have been made, nor has any funding been allocated, but this option is being studied.
The commonwealth is also to be commended for what they have done to improve area transportation.  During the recent national economic downturn, the governor and legislators remained committed to allocating $162 million toward transportation projects to support the region’s BRAC-related growth. These projects have included making improvements on North Wilson Road outside Fort Knox, extending Highway 313 from Vine Grove to Highway 60 near Brandenburg, and constructing a new connector from Highway 313 to Bullion Boulevard, which is the road that leads up to Fort Knox’s main gate. There’s no question that these improvements are going a long way toward improving safety and reducing commute times.
Over the last few years, we’ve also made significant strides on Fort Knox to improve traffic flow.  Lanes have been added at all three primary entrance gates, and we’ve widened Wilson Road on post from two to four lanes.  The All Star scanning system we instituted in February has helped alleviate any congestion at the gates as well. Non-Department of Defense-affiliated visitors are largely vetted through this scanning system, which takes less than 10 seconds. No longer does anyone have to wait in a line at a visitor center to apply for a temporary vehicle pass.
Now, something many may not realize is that Fort Knox is funded to have only one gate open at all hours, based on an Army model that factors in area traffic and gate throughput.  However, the Fort Knox commanding general desired to maintain the level of service we have at the gates. So, with Soldiers from Fort Knox units to augment our civilian gate guards, we are able to keep the Chaffee and Wilson Road Gates open at all hours and the Brandenburg Station Road Gate open from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., on weekdays.  
Analysis has also been conducted on the possibility of another gate and road being opened off of Highway 313 on Fort Knox property. The associated costs would be in the millions because of the need to carry out road and bridge work, gate construction and to pay for additional gate guards. While not feasible at this time due to funding levels and Army traffic throughput models, factors may change in the coming years that could make this a realistic option. Regardless, traffic management is an area we will always monitor, and necessary and beneficial changes will be made when at all possible. This is an area we take very seriously because it has a direct effect on our top priority – the safety and security of all those who live, work and play on Fort Knox.   
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