| News | Relocation | Autos | Jobs | Real Estate | Apartments | New Homes | Classifieds |

Traffic tiger team takes on morning mess

by Lt. Col. Rick Wright
U.S. Special Operations Command
Photo by Senior Airman Heather Miller

Traffic restrictions began Wednesday at Dale Mabry Gate allowing only inbound traffic during peak hours of 5:30 to 9 a.m. Outbound traffic was re routed to the MacDill Gate.

A tiger team was recently chartered by Col. Irv Lee, 6th Mission Support Group commander, to study traffic flow issues at the three vehicle gates of MacDill. A cross-functional team was selected that consisted of two members from each group within the wing, as well as representation from the two largest mission partners of the 6th Air Mobility Wing, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command. This team's charter was to observe, assess and recommend possible solutions to alleviate these delays.

These recommendations have been submitted to wing leadership for consideration, but the intent of this article is to identify what the team observed that slowed down traffic at the gates, and ways in which the base populace can assist in reducing traffic congestion at the gates to make the drive to work easier and less stressful for everyone.

Background data was provided to the team that showed the heaviest traffic flow (2,500 vehicles per hour total) at all gates is between 7 and 8 a.m., and on average the Dale Mabry Gate has double the traffic flow of each of the other two gates. Of particular note, there were two engineering traffic surveys done, one in 2002 and one in 2003, both of which had the same results. However, having two sources of data to back this up was necessary to make recommendations based on factual data to senior leadership. Here are some things all team members observed during the course of study:

  • The vast majority of all vehicles coming through the gates had only one occupant-the driver.
  • A standard check of sticker and ID took 2 to 4 seconds. Approximately 5 percent of vehicles required longer checks (10 to 20 seconds).
  • Drivers do not have adequate situational awareness of either the traffic around them or instructions they are being given by the entry controller (one security forces member had his foot run over by a driver not following verbal instructions).
  • Drivers significantly slow down traffic by not having their identification ready when they arrive at the gate.
  • Drivers talking on cell phones or listening to loud music cannot follow directions from the entry controllers.
  • Motorcycle operators do not have their ID ready at the gate. Two motorcycle operators were timed at over 15 seconds each, while the other lane allowed at least six vehicles entry during that time.

The team took the data provided, along with the observations detailed above and discussed recommendations to reduce congestion. We noticed that most instances where drivers were having problems entering the base were caused by the drivers themselves-no ID, ID not readily available and having to search through the car for it, people asking for directions, and people contesting entry requirements with the entry controllers were those we observed most. Here are some suggestions that everyone who drives on base should consider to ease the flow through the gates, make everyone's commute a little easier and help security forces get people through the gate quicker:

  • Consider carpooling or taking the bus to work.
  • Drivers should consider the best time to arrive on base, working different hours consistent with their mission requirements, and entering through a different gate if their primary route is backed up.
  • Drivers must have their identification ready before arriving at the gate.
  • Drivers should not be talking on cell phones or listening to loud music while entering (drivers could not hear the entry controller or were not watching them or the traffic flow and stopped when they were being waved forward).
  • Motorcycle operators should readily display credentials for entry (Velcro plastic strap on upper left arm, similar to those used on flight lines). An arm strap would allow a quick stop, and the entry controller can see the identification with no action on the operator's part.
  • The number one issue for drivers is to pay attention to the entry controllers, be it manual traffic direction or voice commands. Remember the Airman who got his foot run over?

These observations and recommendations are not scientific, nor conclusive. There is no one silver bullet to fix the traffic congestion at the gates, but everyone must work together and contribute what they can to this effort. For some people, it may be slightly changing duty hours, others may decide to join a carpool or ride the bus, and for some it may simply be having their ID ready when they come to the gate in the morning.

It is everyone's responsibility who lives, works or shops at MacDill to do what they can to assist in this effort. If we don't all pitch in it won't get any better and we'll all be staring at each other waiting to get in the gates.




Use of this site signifies your agreement to the Terms of Service