By Capt. Ben Shevchuk, Naval Air Station Patuxent River Commanding Officer
NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md.—Changes are coming to the naval air station's gate operations that are designed to protect our people and our mission.
Beginning Wednesday, June 19, the NAS Patuxent River Security Department will exclusively employ Gate 1 as the 24/7 gate rather than Gate 2.
Gate 2 will close at 6:30 p.m. and will reopen at 5:30 a.m. weekdays; it will be closed on weekends and holidays. Gate 1 will be open 24/7; this includes the overnight hours, weekends and holidays.
For the morning commute, Gate 2 will have three inbound lanes and one outbound lane. Gate 1 will be adjusted to accommodate four inbound lanes and no outbound lanes. The morning configuration at Gate 1 will be in place until 8:30 a.m. each workday. Beginning at 8:30 a.m., Gate 1 will return to two inbound lanes, and starting at 9 a.m., both Gates 1 and 2 will return to normal configuration to in- and out-bound traffic.
Gate 3 hours remain unchanged: open for inbound and outbound traffic from 5:30-8:30 a.m. weekdays; open for outbound traffic only from 3:30-5 p.m. weekdays; closed weekends and holidays.
Shifting 24/7 services to Gate 1 improves the base's Antiterrorism/Force Protection (ATFP) posture.
The roadway from Three Notch Road, Route 235, to Gate 1 is four times longer than the road entering Gate 2. This distance inhibits surveillance of our Entry Control Point (ECP) operations since the gate is not visible from Three Notch Road. The longer road also allows Gate 1 to absorb traffic more efficiently. And, Gate 1 has a designated truck inspection lane.
Most importantly, Gate 1 is configured with pop-up barriers, an ATFP advantage not available at Gate 2. These barriers allow our security forces to deploy them in case anyone attempts to pass a sentry without showing the necessary credentials.
There is a Transportation Improvement Plan to add similar ATFP features to Gate 2, but funding has not been aligned to that project.
I have discussed my plans with our local community leaders and understand their concerns over the economic impact this gate change can have on Lexington Park. We appreciate the support we have always received from our closest neighbor and are thankful for their efforts to revitalize the area.
However, Gate 1 is the naval air station's most protected gate and is the one we need to be using each night.
As a data point for on-base employees, using Gate 1 for a round trip from the intersection of Cedar Point Road and Buse Road to Shangri-la and Great Mills Road will take about 6½ minutes longer than if you were able to use Gate 2.
The NAS staff will continue to work to get the word out so no one will be surprised by the gate changes coming in mid-June.