In an article entitled, “Traffic delays no reason to stall,” carried by the base’s weekly publication, The Robins Rev-Up, Butikofer said, “Getting into Robins has never been easy.” He cited security concerns and the bulk of traffic that enters the base each work day.
However, he did not explain the reasons for recent policy and shift changes that have forced some 4,000 employees to now report for work at the same time as thousands of others. Prior to the changes, report times were more staggered, creating less stress at the base’s access points.
The Patriot has repeatedly asked for an explanation of the shift and policy changes. To this point, base officials have not granted an interview.
In a Patriot news article last week, American Federation of Government Employees Local 987 President Tom Scott said the increased traffic is creating additional frustration and safety concerns both on and off the base.
He particularly referred to the impact on off-base school traffic and possible delays of emergency response vehicles as Robins traffic clogs major thoroughfares. He also noted that the Air National Guard gate remains closed despite increased access demand.
Scott said he had not been given the reason for the policy and shift changes. “I don’t know what the real facts are,” he stressed.
He said Local 987, the bargaining unit for most civilian workers on base, has recommended re-opening the Air National Guard gate, 30-minute interval report times beginning at 6 a.m. and the involvement of city police and sheriff’s department deputies to assist in directing traffic.
“None of that has happened,” Scott reported. “Neither have we been told the reasons for the changes.”
In the Friday article, Butikofer said worker innovations were cutting wait times. He reported that some were leaving home earlier and arriving at the base when gate traffic is lighter. Others, he noted, were taking advantage of car pooling and mass transit.
The installation commander said a recent study showed that average wait times were ranging from 8.5 minutes at the Russell Parkway Gate to 12 minutes for the Green Street Gate.
“Although we know there are days when some gates exceed this average,” he conceded.
Butikofer said some of the delay was due to heightened security and underscored that Robins had never been safer.
“Since July, we have denied access to more than 500 people with criminal records and detained 35 with active warrants,” he wrote in the Rev-Up article.
He also stressed that gate congestion was largely an issue of “simple math.”
“On an average day, 27,000 vehicles enter Robins,” the commander indicated. “Most enter between 5:30 and 7:30 a.m., with the highest numbers between 5:45 and 6 a.m., 6:45 and 7 a.m. and 7:15 and 7:30 a.m.”