Straight Talk: Gate congestion|
Posted 11/12/2010 Updated 11/12/2010
Commentary by Col. Stacy L. Yike
66th Air Base Group commander
11/12/2010 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Traffic questions anyone? As I launched into authoring my first newspaper column, I swore I would not repeat the same issues in every column. Instead, I would address a broad set of issues that were of interest to the entire base. Little did I know that the questions I would receive would always focus on traffic backups. For my regular readers, I promise if you submit a question on a different topic, I will try my best to answer it. Meanwhile, I will continue to publish the questions we get.
Question: I'd like to know what was going on at the Hartwell Gate on Nov. 2. I left work at 4:15 p.m. and traffic was backed up all the way down Barksdale Street to Eglin Street. It took me 40 minutes to get off the base.
Response: Several questions were received about abnormally congested traffic departing base on the afternoon of Nov. 2. An unfortunate confluence of events created the backup. First, a vehicle accident occurred at the Vandenberg Gate, severely impeding outbound traffic and rerouting most traffic to the Hartwell and MIT gates. Second, security forces gate guards were searching for an individual in outbound vehicles. Hopefully, Nov. 2 can be chocked up as an abnormal traffic day.
Question: Why do we have backups in the morning along Hartwell Avenue? It sometimes takes 30 minutes from the exit to the gate. I would think someone would want to look into the traffic patterns and see what could be done to eliminate such backups.
Response: One would think someone would want to look into that, and lucky for you, that someone is me. When I inquired, I found that civil engineering, security forces and the town of Lexington had all been working this issue very hard for years.
Unfortunately, some projects are expensive and take time to plan and fund. The draft study underway shows comprehensive improvements, including lane widening and traffic circles, and can be found at http://ci.lexington.ma.us/planning/HartwellTraffic.cfm.
In the meantime, remember that the Vandenberg Gate is open 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and usually offers a much shorter wait time during peak hours. It can be accessed from Route 2A, by using exit 30B off of Interstate 95 and Route 128 or Route 62. You may also consider altering your arrival and departure times if possible to avoid the worst of the traffic.
I had the fabulous opportunity to speak to both the Boy Scouts and the Hanscom Middle School students recently on the significance of Veterans Day. It was truly an honor for me to hear the ideas expressed by these young people and to share my views with them. I hope you can take time during this period of remembrance to reflect on the amazing accomplishments of those who came before us. We all carry their legacy and each of us has our own role to play in making this nation great. I thank you all for your service. I am proud to be a part of Team Hanscom.