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Some folks have gotten impatient with slower-than-usual traffic surrounding Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
“Over the past week I’ve received a number of complaints from drivers and base leaders about traffic congestion,” Capt. Ben Shevchuck, Pax River’s commanding officer, wrote in a statement to commuters. “I understand the process of getting on base has been frustrating recently and I regret the longer commutes that so many are experiencing.”
The Sept. 16 attack on the Washington Navy Yard has forced the base to increase its level of security, he said. Meanwhile, a hiring freeze, furloughs, the government shutdown and reductions in staff have made it more difficult to add the right staff.
As a result, Pax River has made several changes to morning traffic operations that went into effect this week, said spokeswoman Connie Hempel. “I had a lot of people tell me today that traffic was better,” she said Thursday.
• Gate 1 Commercial Vehicle Inspection personnel will augment Gate 1 sentries by serving in the normal lanes when not performing inspections.
• Gate 2 high traffic configuration will be in place from 6 to 9 a.m. to provide an extra lane for inbound traffic.
• Gate 3 will be open from 5:30 to 9 a.m. for inbound and outbound traffic. Also, 100 percent identification checks will be conducted at random.
Shevchuk said to make things go more smoothly, those entering Pax River should have Common Access Cards readily available before arriving to the checkpoint. Make sure the CAC is up to date and everyone in the vehicle has an appropriate government-issued ID card ready to present. Consider carpooling. And stagger work hours as much as possible. The majority of employees arrive between 7 and 8:30 a.m.
“I value each employee’s time and recognize the significant impact that traffic delays have on the important missions taking place at NAS Pax River,” Shevchuk said. “Your NAS staff is working to provide secure and efficient procedures for base access.”
Pax River also has published a list of services that are restored, after some were forced to change during the first week of the government shutdown.
They include CAC and ID card offices, the commissary, local scheduling services for household goods moves, supply warehouse shipping and receiving, Fleet and Family Services and all Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.
“We had a few services that had to be curtailed due to the furlough, but these are now operational again — commissary, pass and ID services, local scheduling services for household goods moves, to name a few,” Shevchuk said.
“The government shutdown is frustrating, stressful and it places additional hardships on our civilian workforce, many who are still recovering from the recent administrative furlough,” Shevchuk wrote. “However, we have a dedicated and resilient workforce.”