Capt. James “Doug” Couch
10th ABW Security Forces Operations Officer
You find yourself driving home from work on a Friday afternoon. You can’t wait to hit the local restaurants with family and friends, but what is this … you have to slow down from 45 mph to 25 mph and then all the way to 20 mph? What are these gate barriers all about anyway? The final denial barriers are part of USAFA’s Antiterrorism Plan and a recommended DoD force protection enhancement. The primary purpose of the barriers is to stop threat vehicles from entering the installation and carrying out a terrorist attack.
In September 2008, USAFA received an Air Force Vulnerability Assessment Team Evaluation. The Academy received “Positive Observations” from the team on the placement and use of the barriers.
There are four sets of hydraulic barriers at the south gate and north gate which cover inbound and outbound lanes. Each set is well sighted and placed at a suitable distance from the actual gate house. All barriers are marked with warning signs, sirens and lights on both sides of the road. In addition, speed measuring devices were installed in the approach zone of the barriers as a reminder to stay within the speed limit.
Once the barriers are activated, a loud horn sounds and the yellow flashing lights turn to a solid red light signaling vehicles to immediately stop.
These barriers are designed to stop a 15,000-pound vehicle traveling 50 mph. If you are driving at the posted speed limit of 25 mph, your overall stopping distance will be approx 40-50 feet in dry conditions and 60 -70 feet in wet conditions. This enables you time to safely stop your vehicle in case of barrier deployment. The higher your rate of speed, the greater your stopping distance will be and thus increasing your chances of personal injury and property damage. Striking these barriers at any speed will result in significant vehicle damage. Injuries resulting from a barrier strike could range from cuts and bruises to neck, spine and internal organ damage or even death. Also, higher rates of speed than 25 mph cause severe stress on the barriers and will result in a higher rate of replacement need.
Safety and security is Job #1 for the 10th Air Base Wing, 10th Security Forces Squadron, and all of TEAM USAFA.
So be “Barrier Aware”…and please slow down for SAFETY.