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Marine Corps Base Quantico

"Crossroads of the Marine Corps"

Commissary cut-through to close during morning rush

By Mike DiCicco | | February 27, 2014

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On the morning of Feb. 25, a sign alerts drivers of the impending closure of the entrances to the exchange and commissary parking lot. Beginning Feb. 28, barriers will be in place from 5 to 8:30 a.m. every morning to prevent drivers stuck in Russell Road traffic from cutting through the lot.

On the morning of Feb. 25, a sign alerts drivers of the impending closure of the entrances to the exchange and commissary parking lot. Beginning Feb. 28, barriers will be in place from 5 to 8:30 a.m. every morning to prevent drivers stuck in Russell Road traffic from cutting through the lot. (Photo by David White )


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Beginning Feb. 28, the two entrances to the commissary and Marine Corps Exchange parking lot will be closed during the morning rush hour.

The move is to prevent drivers stuck in the heavy morning traffic on Russell Road from cutting through the parking lot, bypassing traffic and getting back onto the road from Purvis Road, said Staff Sgt. Robert Hubauer, chief of the Provost Marshal’s Office’s Accident Investigations Unit.

Many of the drivers cutting through the lot tend to drive well above the standard 10 mph parking-lot speed limit, often disregarding stop signs and driving across parking spots, resulting in frequent near-accidents, he said, adding, “You have pedestrians in the parking lot who have a reasonable expectation not to be struck down by a vehicle going 40 mph.”

These drivers are also using the parking lot to evade a traffic signal, which is illegal, he said.

Drivers who wait in traffic and don’t break the rules don’t appreciate being bypassed, either.

“We’re getting inundated in the last few weeks with people saying, ‘What are you going to do about this?’” Hubauer said, referring to a barrage of complaints through the Interactive Customer Evaluation system on the base website.

He read one aloud: “I sat at the traffic light in front of the gas station, and car after car after car raced through the parking lot … Is anybody ever going to do anything about this?”

To gauge the extent of the problem, Hubauer and his officers sat in an unmarked car from 6:45 to 8:15 every morning for a week, from Feb. 10 to 14, counting the cars that came through the lot.

“I found the numbers to be quite staggering — definitely more than initially expected,” he said. Of 500 to 550 cars that entered the lot each morning, roughly half subsequently made a right on Purvis Road to get back onto Russell Road.

A traffic count in April of 2013 found that an average of almost 4,000 vehicles enter the base through the Russell Road gate between 6 and 9 each morning, while an average of 2,840 enter through the Fuller Road gate.

Hubauer said he also saw a number of near-accidents during those mornings, noting that, with few traffic control devices in the lot, drivers often don’t know who has the right-of-way. “I can tell you at least 25 times that I cringed,” he said.

The decision was made to put barriers across the entrances every weekday morning from 5 to about 8:15, into the indefinite future.

Hubauer said he regrets that the move will inconvenience employees of the commissary and the Marine Corps Marathon, as well as drivers stopping at McDonald’s or Starbucks, all of whom will now have to access the lot from Purvis Road. Also, because it will stop drivers from cutting through the lot to get to destinations off Purvis Road, he said, “It’s going to have a significant impact on travel times.”

However, he said, “Our primary concern is safety.”

He suggested that drivers heading for Purvis Road may want to enter the base through the front gate, on Fuller Road.

Traffic cones will be placed in the left-turn lanes in the morning to alert drivers not to attempt a turn. Hubauer said, “Especially the first week or so, we’ll be out there monitoring and trying to keep it as safe as possible.”

Hubauer said traffic — and drivers going out of their way to avoid it — is a problem all over the main side of Quantico, but the situation with the commissary and exchange parking lot is the only example that has generated significant complaints and safety concerns.

— Writer: mdicicco@quanticosentryonline.com

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1 Comments


  • tim L. 144 days ago
    To whom it may concern,

    As I waited in traffic this morning, I had time to think more about the article “Commissary cut-through to close during morning rush” and the decision made to do just that. The longer I sat, the more I thought that this problem, and the subsequent back-up we were now all experiencing.
    In the article, Staff Sergeant Hubauer of the Provost Marshall’s Accident Investigations Unit, cited safety and complaints as the main reasons for the closure. SSgt Hubauer stated, “The move is to prevent drivers stuck in the heavy morning traffic on Russell Road from cutting through the parking lot, bypassing traffic and getting back onto the road from Purvis Road.”
    This is true. Many drivers, myself included, would choose to take a left turn from a designated turn lane into an area with a lower speed limit, subject ourselves to three additional traffic control devices (stop signs), and ultimately arrive at the same stop light we would have encountered had we continued directly down Russell Road from the South Gate.
    What are we doing when we make this decision? Is it different than being stuck on I-95 when there is a traffic jam, taking an exit onto US-1, subjecting ourselves to a lower speed limit, additional traffic control devices, and then ultimately merging back onto I-95 after we’ve bypassed the congestion?
    Of course, if we speed on US-1… if we run stop signs or red lights… we would naturally expect to be cited by local law enforcement, and rightfully so.
    What the Commonwealth of Virginia has not done, is close down US-1 during periods of high volume on I-95 to force everyone to suffer equally. This is counterproductive to easing the traffic strain of I-95 and would dramatically impact the local economy which relies on commuters to stop in from time to time to get breakfast, coffee, or gas on their way to and from their destinations.
    SSgt Hubauer goes on to say, “These drivers are also using the parking lot to evade a traffic signal, which is illegal.”
    I wondered about this and ultimately called the Desk Sergeant’s line at the MCBQ Security Battalion who said that driving regulations on base are directly derived from Virginia Statutes. In this instance, “§ 46.2-833.1. Evasion of traffic control devices” states, “It shall be unlawful for the driver of any motor vehicle to drive off the roadway and onto or across any public or private property in order to evade any stop sign, yield sign, traffic light, or other traffic control device.”
    But wait a second, SSgt Hubauer just said, “… bypassing traffic and getting back onto the road from Purvis Road.”
    So the drivers are not evading any traffic signal. They are merely approaching the signal from a different angle. The fact is, if any driver wants to continue down Russell Road past the gas station, they MUST encounter that traffic signal as there is no road, parking lot, easement, or otherwise, that would allow a vehicle to avoid that intersection.
    But what of the safety concerns regarding reckless driving by those going down that alternate route through the parking lot? Certainly. I would not disagree that we all need to do our part to drive safely and obey posted speed limits. Quite the contrary. I would count myself as one of the first to stand up to defend and encourage safe driving.
    That aside, according to the article, these reckless acts have been just that… wreck-less. The hyperbole of, “You have pedestrians in the parking lot who have a reasonable expectation not to be struck down by a vehicle going 40 mph.” does nothing to help the situation.
    Though, as we agree on the safety aspects, why are we not ticketing drivers who exceed the posted speed limit? Why are we not citing the drivers who run or avoid the stop signs? Isn’t THAT the logical response to an unsafe situation? Isn’t THIS the proper role of a traffic safety division?
    Perhaps Base Safety doesn’t have the manpower to assign a vehicle to the parking lot during those hours to ensure drivers are obeying the laws. But wait, the article states, “Hubauer and his officers sat in an unmarked car from 6:45 to 8:15 every morning for a week, from Feb. 10 to 14” and “Especially the first week or so, we’ll be out there monitoring and trying to keep it as safe as possible.” So the officers were there and will continue to be there. Perhaps they can do more than “cringe”.
    So what is the impact of the decision made, and how can it be fixed?
    SSgt Hubauer admitted in the article that this move is an “inconvenience to employees of the commissary and the Marine Corps Marathon, as well as drivers stopping at McDonald’s or Starbucks, all of whom will now have to access the lot from Purvis Road.” He further states, “It’s going to have a significant impact on travel times.”
    So in reaction to this situation, the decision was made to increase everyone’s commute time, and negatively impact the commercial establishments on base.
    Moreover, we have now moved an additional “500-550 vehicles” into the traffic going straight to the Purvis Road traffic light, turning Russell Road itself into a parking lot, and increasing the likelihood of low speed crashes as drivers inch forward. Still again, the traffic is now stopping farther out onto US-1 as a result of the back-up, forcing cars to come to a standstill in the right hand lane as far back as the Quantico Corporate Center, now making our problem a problem for commuters outside MCBQ.
    Relieve us from this. Open up the parking lot for fall-out traffic. Properly ticket those who break traffic laws. Ease our commute. Ease the additional strain and unsafe presence out onto US-1. Ease the economic impact on McDonalds, Starbucks, and the Gas Station. Be rational. Please.

    Tim L.

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