By Scott Prater
Everyone who drives a vehicle on Schriever Air Force Base has encountered the set of security barriers less than a hundred yards from the base’s North and West gates. Most of the time, the barriers rest in their down position, flush with the roadway.
Most drivers ride over them barely feeling a bump as they go on about their day, but at the push of a button, it takes less than six seconds for the barriers to rise three feet into position, blocking the roadway in each direction.
The hydraulically driven barriers are designed to pop up anytime a security situation arises, either at the gate itself or inside the base restricted area.
“The pop-up barriers are mainly used for gate runners and emergencies, but anytime an alarm goes off somewhere inside the restricted area, security personnel raise the barriers as part of their procedures,” said 50th Space Wing Ground Safety Manager Tech Sgt. Steven Briggs. “It’s a way of controlling traffic on the base.”
Occasionally, drivers may encounter a barrier in the process of being raised. In that instance, the traffic light situated next to the barrier changes from green to red, signaling drivers to stop.
This all seems relatively straight forward, yet twice during the past two months, drivers have struck a pop-up barrier here at Schriever. Sergeant Briggs also alluded to recent incidents in which drivers struck barriers at the U.S. Air Force Academy and Peterson Air Force Base.
“Speed is the number one problem,” Sergeant Briggs said. “The speed limit is 15 miles per hour between the gate and the barrier, and what we’ve noticed is that some drivers are hitting 20, sometimes 30 miles per hour by the time they reach the barrier, especially at the North gate where the speed limit is 35 mph on Enoch Road.”
Drivers can also avoid a mishap with a barrier by observing the traffic signal situated next to the barrier.
“We want people to pay attention to the light signal,” Sergeant Briggs said. “They need to make sure the signal is green before proceeding past the barrier. If the light turns red during their approach, and they are driving the speed limit, they should be able to stop in time to avoid any impact to their vehicle.”
In the meantime, Sergeant Briggs said design features of the barriers are being looked at to prevent future mishaps.