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NEWS | May 4, 2010

More traffic at south gate spells more danger at south crossover

By Robert Goetz 502nd Air Base Wing OL-B Public Affairs

The recent reopening of Randolph's south gate to privately owned vehicles allows motorists to again use that gate to enter and leave the base, alleviating traffic congestion at the base's other entry points.

But it has also brought more traffic to Randolph's south side and greater potential for an accident on the south crossover - the Golf Road extension just north of the golf course that intersects the base's active south taxiway.

That increase in traffic - along with four near-accidents in recent weeks - has prompted base officials to sound a warning to motorists, whether they're driving POVs or commercial vehicles, and pedestrians to exercise extreme caution when they traverse the taxiway via the south crossover.

"We're having a problem with motorists not yielding to aircraft and airfield support vehicles," said Linda Howlett, 502nd Air Base Wing OL-B ground safety manager. "We've even had some vehicles turn onto the taxiway."

Motorists and pedestrians approaching the taxiway from the north and south now have a sign with flashing red lights warning them to stop and yield to aircraft and vehicular traffic on the taxiway. The sign also prohibits turns.

Whether they stop or proceed if they see taxiway traffic is a judgment call.

"You have to judge distance and speed to determine if you can make it across," said Mance Clark, 902nd Security Forces Squadron Antiterrorism Force Protection officer. "The problem is we all judge things differently."

Ms. Howlett said motorists need to adopt a more conservative approach when they're waiting for taxiway traffic to cross.

"A collision would be catastrophic," she said.

Ms. Howlett said joggers and walkers should use even more caution "because it takes them longer to cross." They also are required to take their ear buds out or headphones off when they cross the taxiway.

Mr. Clark said some of the danger involved in crossing the taxiway has been minimized because of a recently completed project to extend Taxiway G on the southwest side of the base, which allows aircraft taxiing to and from the west flight line to avoid the south crossover.

However, aircraft, towed aircraft, aircraft ground equipment vehicles, fuel trucks and other airfield support vehicles move at speeds from 5 to 15 miles per hour across the south crossover from both directions throughout the day, especially on weekdays.

"It's a multitude of airfield operations," Mr. Clark said. "All your airfield operations could traverse that particular area. There's more than enough traffic for people to be vigilant."

Ms. Howlett said the base formerly used a series of sensors that would trigger stop lights at the south crossover, but maintenance issues caused that method to be scrapped.

For now a media campaign - including the placement of fliers identifying the situation at locations such as the south gate, the golf course and the Rambler Fitness Center as well as presentations at commanders' calls and wing safety briefings - is authorized.

"Since the south gate has been closed for several months, we're not used to seeing this much traffic," Ms. Howlett said. "It's a good time to remind people that it's an active runway."

Mr. Clark asked motorists to be patient when they see aircraft and airfield support vehicles heading toward the south crossover.

"When you stop, you wait no longer than you would for a traffic light," he said.