Garrison Commander Addresses Gate Changes on Redstone Arsenal

Col. Bill Marks, Garrison Commander

Col. Bill Marks, Garrison Commander

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (WHNT) – The Redstone Arsenal workforce is trying to figure out the morning commute, yet again.

With several gate changes and the complete shutdown of Gate 8, traffic has been backing up for the last few days, causing major delays for commuters.

Arsenal managers spoke about the changes Thursday, saying it’s simply a lack of guardforce.

Colonel Bill Marks said instead of moving guards from one gate to another, it makes more sense to shut down a gate they feel isn’t getting utilized the most and put more guards at other stations.

“I knew going into this, as I try to communicate when we made the decision to announce it, it would create delays, naturally create frustration, and we’ve seen both,” said Col. Marks.

Col. Marks is the Garrison Commander, and says just like we saw during furloughs, the gate changes are causing headaches.  But he said it has to be done.

“When you’re reduced in your guard force, you’ve got to strike that balance to make sure there’s a reasonable amount of access to the post,” he said.

Every weekday, 43,000 people travel onto the Arsenal.  Colonel Marks says the key is to keep the entrances predictable for his workforce.

“I feel like it would be much more disastrous if one morning we were not able to man fully all of the gates and I had to close a gate without informing the workforce,” he said.

He says don’t expect Gate 8 to reopen anytime soon.

“The changes we plan [are] more permanent.”

This could be the new normal.

“What I do expect and what we did see with the furloughs was that traffic, the workforce will find something that’s more predictable, folks will settle down as they figure out this is my gate, or the gate that I like to enter in most based on where I live,” he said.

Colonel Marks says his team is monitoring the traffic.  As far as delays, he says at a minimum he expects people to see 15 to 20 minute delays even after the traffic gets back to normal.

27 comments

  • Glenn

    So the garrison commander has no control over the size of the guard force? Who does? Because it is apparent that the size of the guard force is not adequate for the Redstone workforce to commute efficiently.
    MG Myles (when he was the post commander) was adamant for his workforce to not be stuck in traffic. He worked very hard on this issue as it was always at the top of his priorities. We miss you General Myles…and thank you for caring when you were commander.

  • suebon

    I’m sure he lives on post, as do all the one-four stars, so they aren’t affected. Do the math. Spending 15-20 minutes per morning getting through the gate equals 1 1/4 – 1 2/3 wasted time per person per week. I keep a work related document to read with me so while I’m sitting there inching ahead I’m working.

  • ValerieD

    The decision is impacting the entire city, and particularly the neighborhoods and schools surrounding the arsenal. The traffic backup is causing major congestion in several schools zones during a time that children are going to school. This is not safe. The traffic backup is also a force protection issue. With so many federal employees stuck in traffic, they are a prime target for terrorists. With the billions of dollars that come into Redstone each year, I’m sure enough funding can be found to keep guards at each gate during peak morning traffic times. I think the Garrison Commander did not consider all of his options for funding before making the decision to reduce the gate guards. The city of Huntsville should also be willing to help with a solution. Maybe some police officers could work as gate guards as a part-time job. If the city can find money to help build housing for the generals, they can also help fund extra guards for the gates.

  • Linda

    15-20 minutes? Try 45minutes! On Research Park Blvd on Wednesday I got into gridlock traffic at Bradford Dr! And it took 45 minutes until I was through the gate. Ridiculous.

  • Karl Lee

    One thing about it Colonel…..with decisions that you are making, we both are wearing the highest rank we will obtain — and I’m retired Air Force

  • KCT

    The COL sounds a bit arrogant to me. Sounded a whole lot like “Let em eat cake!” With 43,000 workers and leave it to us to figure out which limited gates we can use? Also, what’s going to happen when Von Braun IV and the other new Boeing building opens? Oh, yea, 60 minute delays will be the new “norm.” But, of course, the COL probably lives on base so he’s not impacted by this. How about MDA, NASA, ACC, AMCOM and other tenants cough up some extra bucks that they’d not even feel the impact off to fund the guards and reopen the gates? Hell, I’d even kick in some bucks as I waste a gallon or more per day just idling in traffic for 45 minutes to get to the gate and then the “rush” home stop-and-go traffic.

  • Ian

    Why don’t everyone stop acting like children and deal with it!!! Get a life!!! you all never had any real problems.The Garrison Commander actually is doing everything he can. The reduction in Redstone Guards was not the Garrison Commanders decision or anyone at Redstone Arsenal. It came from the higher command. The current Garrison Commander is the first one of his kind that I have seen that really cared about the security of Redstone Arsenal and its employees. You all actually should thank him.

  • Karl Lee

    Ian….. You are truly a bucket head – as the Garrison commander, he is the mayor if you will for Redstone Arsenal!! You obvious don’t know military protocol! Sure hope a ambulance can get through the gate quickly and no one loses their life due to stupidity in our leadership ranks….. Hell ask for military police manning assistance – since Iraq has closed

    • Ian

      I think you are the bucket head here. I know a lot more about military protocol than you think. IMCOM is the organization over all the Garrisons in the U.S. Army. They are enforcing down grade of all Guards and Police in most Installations in The U.S. Army. I am just saying this is way beyond COl. Marks control. AMC has also been trying to resolve the problem as well. It is all the bean counters at IMCOM that is forcing leadership of Redstone Arsenal’s hand. IMCOM headquarter’s is not located in Alabama. All they see is statistics. Maybe the leadership of Redstone arsenal is making it hurt for everyone to send the message of complaints up the chain. Do you honestly think Redstone Arsenal did not know the cause and affect of this? Or are you really that naïve?

  • dmil72

    “Make it hurt”, right Colonel? Is that the direction you gave this time too?I know that is what you told them during the sequester.

  • Bill

    Now that we all know that this situation isn’t going to change, it’s time for the leadership in each Major Command to adjust the work hours accordingly.
    Let each of the Major Commands have their respective employees come in on stagered hours. This would help on both ends of the day.Now with saying that, the employees would have to play fare on this.

  • T B

    There are enough funds available to increase the guard force. It is costing the government apprx $1M a day for 43,000 engineers to waste an additional 30 minutes at the gate. (don’t think they sit there then put in 8 hrs)
    In addition if the Garrison is serious about reducing the pain – stop having the guards take the badge out of our hands – flip it over for a nanosecond – then hand it back. Ridiculous waste of time.

  • Wes

    Such an easy fix, so many ways to come up with so little money. This is political. If the garrison commander is not making the decision and it’s coming from above him, he has failed to make the argument this is wrong to those making the decision. Is he just a pundant or is he a leader? Time will tell. And where is Tommy Battle and the mayor of madison? This is their problem too, leaders lead, that’s what your elected to do! This is an easy fix, do your job or resign and let somebody who’s not affraid do the job!

  • T B

    Oh and the decision to put a traffic light just north of Gate 9 to accomodate the Boeing traffic? Really? 40,000 people trying to leave the Arsenal in the afternoon and we have to stop and let 3 or 4 cars from Boeing out? Genius

  • Karl Lee

    A real cluster!! I wonder if this Management by Objective – a late 70d theory! You could not get an ambulance to the post if you wanted to in the morning…… Possible serious legality

    • ValerieD

      I agree. This is not only a poor management decision it could have very serious consequences, not only for the people who work on Redstone, but for the community surrounding Redstone. School buses are being delayed getting to the schools and emergency vehicles would not be able to get through this traffic if there was an emergency in the vicinity. I hope the other Redstone leadership, including General Officers and Senior Executives step up and help find a funding solution for this mess. Now that HQ AMC serves in the role of Installation Commander, I expect them to lead the effort. I also hope the Mayor of Huntsville and the School superintendent provide some pressure to Redstone leadership.

  • BK

    With the looming commissary closings it makes sense that they would like to close the PX as well. Looks like some of the fallout is to screw the retire and access to on post benefits.

  • Karl Lee

    Ian, listen buck head – you are clueless!! This event wasn’t thought out! This is the only installation this is happening to! Just check larger installation around the country bucket head! It’s the poor leadership with the Colonel! Check Ft Bragg, Hood, Sam Houston, Reily, Lewis. Campbell etc ! We are the lone duck with this issue! Research….. Research before u speak

    • RK

      Doh. What is the one thing the major “troop” posts have and we don’t? I’ll give you a clue, it starts with a t and ends with a roops, and they can use them as borrowed military manpower.

  • JC

    Everyone understands it’s a political position to gain more funding for Redstone. The fact is the gates have not been operating at 100% capacity as available personnel have been focused on meeting delay directives. A typically 2 second check has turned into 3 to 5 seconds, compounded over 30,000 personnel. They’re playing a political game at the cost of over an hour per day per person.

    • RK

      3-5 seconds? Hyperbole at its best. 1-2 seconds is more like it. Get a stop watch and check it yourself unless you are the fanning the flames type of person.

  • K

    I was an SP in the USAF. We guarded the gates and everything else Security wise. When heavy gate times, we just quit giving speeding tickets and did some real work.

    Take some of the Law enforcement personnel and expedite the gates.

    Another peeve: The have Gate 9 set up to force massive traffic to switch lanes to get into two adjacent lanes – Very inconsiderate of the risk. I don’t imagine the Garrison has ever heard of a risk assessment…

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