HILL AIR FORCE BASE — In a little over a week, the 24,000 people who work at Hill Air Force Base each day will likely face some challenges getting to and from their place of employment.
On Sept. 22, the base will begin a construction project that will impact Hill’s three main access gates until early November as the base’s 75th Civil Engineer Group will install what are known as “speed tables” at the South, West and Roy entry gates.
Capt. Thomas Otsby, commander of the 75th Security Forces Squadron on base, said the speed tables are essentially large speed bumps with sloping angular sides instead of a rounded profile. Otsby said the tables will replace the concrete serpentines currently featured at the gates and are being installed to comply with Department of Defense anti-terrorism standards.
“We realize that, at least initially, there’s going to be some pain and confusion (in commuting to the base),” Otsby said. “But this is a project was just have to take care of.”
The construction will take place in three separate phases. Construction on the heavily-used South gate begins on Sept. 22 and is expected to conclude on Oct. 5. During that construction phase, the South gate will be closed completely and Hill workers who typically use the gate to access the base are encouraged to use the smaller East and Southwest gates.
Otsby said the East gate will be open from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday during the first phase of construction. The Southwest gate will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The West and Roy gate hours will remain the same.
The South gate vistors center will remain open during the construction.
The second phase of construction will begin on Oct. 6 and will close the West gate until Oct. 19. During that time, the South gate will reopen, the East gate will close, and the Southwest gate will return to its normal service hours of 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays only.
Following the West gate construction, work will be completed on the Roy gate between Oct. 20 and Nov. 8. The gate will operate at a reduced capacity during construction, but will not close entirely.
Kevin Patzer, manager of the gate project, said the construction schedule is contingent upon weather conditions and that inclement weather could lenghten the project.
After the construction is complete, Otsby said additional lanes will be available at the gates and large vehicles like snowplows, emergency vehicles, delivery trucks and motor homes will have an easier time getting on and off of the base.
Otsby said numbers on how many vehicles enter the individual gates on a daily basis were not readily available, but the gate closures will significantly impact inbound and outbound traffic.
“We have more than 20,000 people working here,” he said. “So obviously there are a lot of vehicles coming through these gates.”
Otsby said base leadership looked at keeping all gates open at a reduced capacity during the construction, but found that option would extend construction by several months.
“We figured the best route would be to close the gates and get the project finished faster,” he said.
Base spokesman Rich Essary said Hill commuters should plan on leaving for work earlier than they are used to.
“We want to emphasize that people should anticipate delays (getting on and off base) and allow for some extra time getting to work,” he said.
Base officials encourage car pooling and the use of mass transit, like the Utah Transit Authority’s bus service to the base, during the construction.
The project will cost $318,000. Traffic and construction updates will be posted at www.hill.af.mil as the project progresses.