FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – After a nearly 4-month closure due to construction, Fort Wainwright’s main gate reopened at 11:59 p.m. on September 23. Initially expected to reopen in early October, the gate re-opened about a week ahead of schedule.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in the afternoon to make the formal announcement of the completion of work. The actual opening of the gate was held late at night to minimize disruption to drivers.
“We’re happy to introduce our latest accomplishment to the community and those who helped bring this project to fruition,” said Col. Nathan Surrey, Fort Wainwright garrison commander.
The Fort Wainwright Directorates of Public Works and Emergency Services, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mayor Jim Matherly, and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities all had involvement in the project. Silver Mountain Construction, LLC, completed the work.
The gate-area improvements consisted of resurfacing the road to eliminate potholes, redesigning the Visitor Center parking lot with a one-way flow of traffic and parking spaces angled to 45 degrees, upgrading the vehicle inspection area, increasing the electrical capacity for lighting and other devices, and adding five pull-through spaces for commercial vehicles.
Previously, when commercial vehicles approached the gate, they would simply pull to the side of the road for inspection, but due to their size, they would frequently stick out into the lane of traffic. This put the security officer, driver, and passenger vehicles at risk of injury and vehicle collisions. The pull-through spaces are now off the roadway and allow for a safer inspection for all, according to Lt. Col. Early Howard, director of Emergency Services on post.
Additionally, the project included a visitor weapons storage facility adjacent to the Visitor Center building.
“For those whose weapons aren’t registered on post, they can check in at the Visitor Center, store their weapons, conduct their business on post, and then come back and pick them up,” Howard said.
Fort Wainwright policy requires all weapons to be registered at the Visitor Center before they can be regularly carried onto the installation. Authority granted by the state of Alaska to carry a concealed firearm is not valid on Fort Wainwright.
With the reopening of Main Gate, the Lazelle and Richardson Gates closed again until needed in the future. Badger and Trainer Gates returned to their pre-closure operating hours. Badger Gate is open 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days per week, While Trainer Gate is open 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.