HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- The implications of sequestration continue to reverberate at Hill Air Force Base as reduced manpower has contributed to a sometimes crawling pace for traffic at base security gates.
Since unpaid furlough days began at Hill in early July, some Hill workers have reported long waits as they attempt to enter the base through its two main entry points -- the west gate at 650 North in Clearfield and the east gate, just off of State Route 193 in Layton.
Dee Czeszel, a civilian employee at Hill, said since furloughs began it's not unusual for 30 minutes to be added to her commute time as a result of heavy traffic backed up at the base's west gate.
"They can't seem to find one more body to man that third lane that was designed to alleviate those hazards and traffic backup," she said. "Is anyone else getting tired of being late or having to add half an hour to their commute?"
Andrea Mason, Hill's public affairs director, said gates receive peak traffic in the early morning hours between Monday and Thursday when up to 10,000 vehicles will enter the installation.
Mason said most delays at base gates are isolated incidents and that traffic studies have shown peak wait times reach no longer than 4 to 6 minutes. Mason said the base still has the capability to staff the gates to ensure a consistent flow of traffic unless a security incident requires assistance.
"If there are delays that last longer, it can be due to a security response from an alarm or emergency, which takes precedence over installation access," Mason said in a statement sent to the Standard-Examiner. "Due to the nature of working on a military installation and the associated additional security measures in place, we will not be able to make all security operations public."
With fewer civilian personnel, Hill has also reduced hours at several gates due to sequestration and furloughs, which Mason said has impacted traffic from time to time.
Mason said open gates are fully staffed during peak hours, except on Fridays, during the furlough period.
"Even if all lanes are open, gates can still get backed up if we have multiple turnarounds, trucks coming through the wrong gate and people needing to check in at the visitor center," Mason said.
Hill officials recommend that employees use alternate gates, have their identification cards ready for the entry controller, move to lanes that are open so they are equally filled, and allow ample time due to unforeseen delays.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced earlier this week that the government-mandated furloughs had been reduced from 11 days to six, meaning Hill will again be at full manpower by the end of August, instead of the end of September.
Mason said when the furlough period ends, traffic should improve at the gates.
"We will continue to evaluate resource constraints, but anticipate fewer impacts when the furlough ends in late August."