New Redstone Arsenal Gate 9 design includes tribute to the past

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REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - The work continues this weekend to prepare the new Redstone Arsenal Gate 9 for traffic.

Officials closed Gate 9 for a period of time in order to move electronics and structures from the old gate to the new one. They are also preparing the barriers that serve as protection.

Inbound lanes will be closed through Wednesday, July 5. Outbound lanes will be closed from 6:00 a.m. Saturday, July 1 through 6:00 a.m. Sunday, July 2. Meanwhile, click here for the alternative gate plan.

The new gate is silver and fresh, sitting 3/4 of a mile back from the former Gate 9. On top sits the title, "Redstone Arsenal" in large, red letters.

This isn't the first time big, red letters have welcomed us into Redstone Arsenal. The design is similar to the former Gate 1 from 1962, on Martin Road.

"The lettering on the 1962 gate is very similar to the lettering we are seeing now on the new Gate 9," said Claus Martel, Redstone Arsenal Acting Command Historian. "It's kind of an homage, a throwback, to the classic design of that era."

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"We hope it's a reminder of the great past here at Redstone," commented Chris Colster, Redstone Arsenal US Army Garrison Public Affairs Officer.

As people, commands and agencies inside Redstone Arsenal make history every day, there are many other nods to the installation's past in plain sight. But there's a problem, said Martel.

"We have so many new people coming on to Redstone every single day," he explained. "So many people do not know the old history of the installation."

Martel took us back to the 1940's when Redstone Arsenal was in its infancy, and the gates were far different than they are now. It helps paint a picture of how they became the protectors they are for the installation today.

"Starting in 1941, the gates were operated by Military Police officers," he said. "People merely showed a sticker on a vehicle, and that was sufficient [to enter] for all those years. The idea of 100% ID for each person coming into the arsenal did not happen until after 9/11," he noted, "but generally speaking people just drove onto the installation."

He said the world and the workforce then were much different than they are now.

"The max workforce around World War II was around 20,000 people, and they had very limited gates so people were just waved onto base after looking at the post sticker," he explained. "We now have a base population that's over 40,000. We've never had a population that is more than 40,000."

Martel said Gate 9 is making history because it is more technologically advanced than any other gate on the installation.

But there is more history to observe as drivers approach Gate 9. You may also be interested to know that Rideout Road is not named because you "ride out" of the arsenal using it. Instead, it is in honor of Lt. Percy Rideout.

"It was the name of the gentleman, an MIT grad, who enlisted in the Army join the fight in World War I. Most people may not know this brand new gate is sitting on a roadway named for a WWI hero," commented Martel.

As you approach the new Gate 9 when it reopens, take note of the red letters and remember Redstone's past.

"This kind of links the past, the present and the future," said Colster. "For us on the arsenal, it's all about where we are headed in the future."

"As time moves on," said Martel, "30, 40, 50 years from now, we may look at pictures of this [new] gate and say, 'Wow, this was an ancient relic!'"

Martel and the Army Materiel Command provided us with some more gate images from decades past. You can view the gates through the ages in the slideshow and video below.