Construction of overhead canopies at three Fort Lee gates is scheduled to begin Aug. 5.
The A Avenue, Mahone and Lee Avenue gates will temporarily close in consecutive phases while roofed structures similar to those at the Sisisky Boulevard and Shop Road gates are built to shield guards and incoming traffic from the elements.
Fort Lee Director of Emergency Services Tony DeWitt said minimizing the impact of weather has immeasurable benefits.
“Keeping the sun and rain out of our guards’ eyes helps them stay focused as they stand watch every day,” DeWitt said.
He added that “a bit of sun or rain” may sound insignificant, but those little things add up quickly. “Wet shirt sleeves, dropped IDs and temporary sun blinding are only minor until a distracted driver has an accident,” he emphasized.
Fort Lee Garrison Commander Col. Hollie Martin said the gate improvement project is also about taking care of people. “The gate guards are our first line of defense and often perform a thankless job. They deserve working conditions that enable them to perform at their best, with the least amount of risk to their life, health and safety.”
Garrison leaders understand construction will create short-term impositions for some and encourage personnel, residents and visitors to plan ahead.
“DES is adjusting the hours and traffic at Shop Road Gate, and we’re closing only one gate at a time in order to minimize traffic problems,” said Doug Ledford, Fort Lee engineering division chief.
The key points about the gate renovations include:
- A Avenue Gate, the first of the three projects, will be closed from Aug. 5 through Oct. 10.
- During A Ave. construction, the Shop Road Gate will open on weekends and – after Labor Day – also will have adjusted weekday morning hours and traffic patterns to accommodate school buses.
- Mahone Avenue Gate will be closed Oct. 24 through Christmas Eve.
- During Mahone Avenue construction, Lee Avenue Gate operations will be extended on weekdays and will include weekend hours.
- Canopy construction at the Lee Avenue Gate will begin after the Virginia Department of Transportation completes a separate, still-to-be-scheduled traffic improvement project along Route 36.
Martin said she appreciates the patience and understanding of the community during the months of inconvenience. However, deliberate reminders to plan ahead and avoid the urge of taking risks, such as speeding, are necessary as Team Lee works through these significant upgrades.
“If we remain cognizant and consistently remind our staff, customers and visitors of the gate changes, we’ll minimize the impact to normal operations and daily life at Fort Lee,” she said.
Installation access gate hour maps and other visitor information is on the Fort Lee website at home.army.mil/lee/index.php/visitors.