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NEWS | Feb. 9, 2010

Traffic flow study reduced waiting times at Randolph's gates

By By Sean Bowlin 502nd Air Base Wing OL-B Public Affairs

A traffic flow study by Air Education Training Command's Studies and Analysis Squadron was the impetus behind recent reduction of waiting times at Randolph Air Force Base's entry gates.

The study, said Roger Foley, Operations Research Analyst with the SAS, began when Lt. Col. David Denhard, AETC SAS commander, was asked in mid-December if his squadron could examine traffic issues caused by the closure of Randolph's South Gate.

After a meeting Dec. 16, six SAS personnel observed the morning traffic flow and counted inbound traffic. SAS personnel reviewed the collected data and met with Major Frank Hellstern, the 902nd Security Forces Squadron commander, to discuss observations and possible solutions.

After this meeting, an AFSO21 Rapid Improvement Event was scheduled and initiated by Col. Alan Lake, 902nd MSG commander. Jim Grobe, deputy director, 902nd Logistics Readiness Division, was designated as the RIE's facilitator.

At the RIE, the SAS briefed attendees on the study's results.

The SAS said at the East Gate, traffic attempting to turn into that gate from FM78 --coming from Schertz and Cibolo -- had to wait for traffic coming from the other direction on FM78 before crossing over FM78 to enter the base.

"However, because there is limited queuing space at the East Gate, only one or two cars could cross the road and enter the base before other cross traffic would come and the entering cars would have to wait on FM78 before entering. Many times the gate guards on that side of the entry to the East Gate had no cars to check," Mr. Foley said.

The SAS suggested moving the gate ID check further back onto the base so more cars could queue on the base's property. That way, gate guards would always have cars to check.

"The SAS said cars coming from 1604 and Converse turning right at the Main Gate were waiting to merge into the ID check lane right at the intersection, as opposed to coming down the lane and merging closer to the guard shack," Mr. Foley also said.

He added, "Also, many cars coming straight across FM78 from Pat Booker were stopping to let these right-turn cars merge in. This caused traffic to back up into the intersection and resulted in considerable congestion at the Main Gate."

SAS asked why the third lane couldn't be opened. That way, drivers turning right into the Main Gate from 1604/Converse would be able to drive straight ahead without impeding traffic crossing FM78 from Pat Booker Road.

The RIE team mapped the gate entry process, points where rapid improvement could be made to alleviate early morning traffic congestion and brainstormed other possible solutions.

It recommended to Colonel Lake that at the East Gate, the 902nd SFS move the entry control point back 1,500 feet. This required no additional manpower.

The RIE team also advised that at the base's Main Gate, the SFS open a third entry lane, with no additional manpower required.

Before this, the Main Gate was using three security personnel on each of the two open lanes; with the third entry lane open, there are now two security personnel on each lane.

Gate wait time data was gathered at the three gates from 19-29 Jan. 19-29 to determine how effective the changes were.

The three main arteries into the base were monitored and SAS analyzed the two weeks of wait time data collected at the three gates.

"The queue of cars waiting to get on base at the three gates has been noticeably shorter," Mr. Foley concluded.

The analysis said the West Gate wait is now less than eight minutes across all entry times; the average for the West Gate is 4.6 minutes. Main and East Gates are running less than six minutes at peak time; the overall average wait at the Main Gate is 3.1 minutes. The overall average for the East Gate is four minutes.

Mr. Grobe agreed, saying, "It's amazing how a couple of small changes to the East and Main gates, generated by an AFSO21 event, can have such a huge impact on wait times. Although these adjustments have been made at the gates, the AFSO21 team is still analyzing the traffic flow to further investigate additional improvements."

The SAS has suspended collecting data until after the scheduled March 1 re-opening of the South Gate. After that, it will collect data for an additional week or two.