Commissary cut-through to close during morning rush
By Mike DiCicco
| Marine Corps Base Quantico | February 27, 2014
Marine Base Quantico --
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.
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