New center, gate at Fort Meade bolster security

October 26, 2004|By Sarah Schaffer | Sarah Schaffer,SUN STAFF

Army leaders and local officials marked completion yesterday of a $2.5 million welcome center and checkpoint gate at Fort Meade that they say should make it easier to get on and off the Odenton post while enhancing security.

Three years after Fort Meade became a restricted-access post, Army officials held a ribbon-cutting for an upgraded Reece Road entrance, which will open by the end of next month

In the meantime, visitors can get a pass and enter at one of the post's three other gates.

The Army closed the Llewellyn Gate on Route 175 yesterday.

More than 60,000 people live or work on the post in western Anne Arundel County.

"This is a symbol of renewing our commitment to our community in Central Maryland," Col. John W. Ives, Fort Meade's installation commander, said.

FOR THE RECORD - Because of incorrect information provided by Army officials, an article in yesterday's editions gave the wrong date for the opening to visitors of the new Reece Road gate at Fort Meade in Odenton. In fact, the gate opened to traffic yesterday.

The 5,000-acre post includes the National Security Agency, which has its own entry points. The post is also home to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regional office and the Defense Information School.

Ives said the project took 10 months to complete and will help to resolve some of the security issues that have arisen since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

For years, the Odenton Army post was open to the public. In August 2001, the Army began requiring anyone who entered to present military identification or ride with an escort. Visitors were directed to the gates at Reece Road and Route 175.

Security was tightened after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Searches of vehicles at checkpoints backed up Route 175 for hours. Visitors then had to navigate a maze of concrete barriers to get onto the post.

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