Improving Sheppard's Gates

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Ricahrd Devereaux
  • 82nd Training Wing commander
I thought I'd take the opportunity this week to update you on the status of construction projects designed to improve our three Sheppard gates. Of course, fixing our gates is right in line with one of my main priority areas--ensuring "Fantastic First Impressions" for our trainees, newcomers, visitors, and their families. Our four gates--Main, Hospital, Missile Rd., and Capehart--are the ultimate first impression points for Sheppard, and they need some work.

Our primary objective for improving our gates is to enhance our base security and ensure a good work environment for our security forces personnel. Secondarily the gates should facilitate the traffic flow on and off the base. Finally, each of our gates should be attractive and make any visitor feel they are entering a premier, professional installation. We have some work to do in each of these areas. As many of our Sheppard long-term civilians will attest, our gates have not changed much since 9/11 and are way overdue for improvements. Let me summarize some of the changes we've already made and what we have planned for the future.

First, after we privatized the Capehart housing area, GMH Military Housing agreed to replace the manned Capehart gate with a PIN-access gate and also added security fencing to the front of the housing area. This attractive gate, combined with a renewed alertness of our housing residents, has kept Capehart very secure over the past year, with not a single reported criminal act by a non-resident. "Automating" that gate has also allowed us to release security forces augmentees back to their home units.

At the Main Gate, you've probably noticed recent improvements to the intersection of 1st Ave and D&E. The concrete paving of that entire intersection by our civil engineers should keep it pothole free for the next 10 years.

In the next few weeks, you'll see some big changes to the Missile Road Gate. We'll be relocating the "guard shack" to just past the large vehicle search area to allow more queuing space and ensure that large vehicles are inspected before they enter the base. This will allow us to convert the old housing office to a new Pass and ID and Visitor Center. We'll also be adding pop-up vehicle barriers that will further enhance security of this entry portal.

For the Hospital Gate, we will install new pop-up barriers similar to what will be installed at the Missile Rd. gate.

At all the gates, we will replace the "orange bollards" that none of us like, with more-attractive, more-effective traffic calming devices called "speed tables." These speed tables are essentially long speed bumps that you drive over, eliminating the serpentine maneuvering required by the bollards.

Finally, for our Main Gate, our civil engineers are in the final stages of designing a $9M military construction project which will include a new gate house and entryway, and a long, re-routed queuing area that will wind through the old Wherry Housing area. This will ensure that traffic delays during higher FPCON periods will not cause traffic to back up onto the Sheppard Access Rd. Also, part of this project will include lane additions to the Missile Rd. gate, allowing this portal to serve as a high-throughput thoroughfare. Once this project is complete, we'll be able to permanently close the Hospital Gate which will enhance our security, with no decrease in traffic flow on and off the installation.

All but the Main Gate construction project will take place this year--so thanks in advance for tolerating any inconvenience you might experience over the next few months. I'd like to thank Lt Col Dino Kirkikis, our CE Commander, and Maj Bill Lowery, our Security Forces Commander, and their entire teams for devising this plan to move Sheppard's gates into the 21st Century.

Of course none of the security improvements absolve any of us from the need to say ever vigilant for any threat that may emerge. Let's be sure that "every Airman IS as sensor" at Sheppard AFB.