Beginning June 1, the Fort Benning access control point located at South Lumpkin Road will operate under new hours.
The gate, referred to by post officials as ACP 1, will be open to incoming and outgoing traffic from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. only. This change is precipitated by the post’s need to devote its limited manpower to other access points across the installation, such as the I-185, 1st Division Road and Benning Boulevard gates.
Deputy Garrison Commander Chuck Walls said the decision to limit the hours of operation for the S. Lumpkin Road gate was not made without consideration for the well-being of the businesses and community surrounding that location.
“Merchants were fearful that if we closed it in the afternoon, that traffic would bypass their businesses,” Walls said.
After reviewing the results of a lengthy traffic study, conducted using digital counting devices, and determining the peak periods of travel through the S. Lumpkin Road access point, Walls went out into the community to discuss the plan with area business owners, civic organizations and city leaders. He said he listened to some valid concerns and explained there may be an opportunity down the road to outfit the gate in question with as yet determined technological enhancements thereby allowing outgoing traffic to flow off post only in the evening. That idea, however, has not yet been implemented and will not be in effect on June 1.
“We wanted to send the message that these are the new hours that we’re going to operate and we’re going to assess the impact very carefully with the community,” Walls said. "The whole key to this is working really closely with the community."
Lt. Col. Kevin Clarke, director of emergency services on post, said this upcoming change is a good alternative to closing the S. Lumpkin Road gate altogether. With 10 access control points to operate around the installation, three of which sit within a five minute drive of each other, Clarke said his current guard force is stretched thin and the option to hire more is currently out of the question.
"We've seriously stretched the guard force and we've had to move some folks," Clarke said. "The bottom line is we've got to do the best we can with the manpower that we have."
Clarke also noted that Benning recently opened access points on both sides of U.S. 27 at 1st Division Road to ease traffic congestion caused primarily by Base Realignment and Closure construction. Additionally, the gate on Buena Vista Road was recently opened to facilitate all the BRAC-associated construction crews and trucks headed for Harmony Church.
Concerning the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center at Patriot Park, which is situated off post along both S. Lumpkin and Fort Benning roads, Walls said Fort Benning will make arrangements with the National Infantry Foundation to accommodate traffic and access to and from post during special events such as the museum's June 19th grand opening.
Anyone with questions about the gate change can call the Military Police desk at 706-545-5223.