Aberdeen Proving Ground Transportation Center better than nothing [Commentary]

  • Syreeta Gross, Transportation Services Coordinator, talks during Tuesday morning's official ribbon-cutting about the advantages of the new APG-CSSC Transportation Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
Syreeta Gross, Transportation Services Coordinator, talks… (DAVID ANDERSON | AEGIS STAFF,…)

Making sure 21,000 people can get to and from work is a logistics nightmare. To put the number into some kind of perspective, it is about three and a half times the number of people who can be seated at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, or a little less than half of a capacity crowd at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Consider also that Aberdeen Proving Ground has limited access through guarded gates for going in and out, roughly comparable to the situation for a stadium parking lot. Then there's the matter of most people who go to a ballgame are likely to be riding with at least one other person, whereas carpooling to work isn't as prevalent.

Anyone who has been on the roads anywhere near APG, as far west as Churchville and Bel Air, can attest that driving is dreadful at rush hour.

It's nothing new on post, and the Army leadership on site has a well-established track record of trying different things to ease the pressure at crunch times, such as staggered start and quit times for different offices. For a regimented organization like the Army, such things are relatively easy to coordinate. It's a lot easier for a commanding officer to coordinate government staff members and employees of government contractors than it might be to coordinate, say, the comings and goings of employees of a dozen businesses in a particular community.

Still, coordinating getting people on and off Aberdeen Proving Ground every day for business hours is an unenviable task, and one that doesn't just happen. It makes a good deal of sense, then, that officials from the post and Harford County are coordinating a transportation center with a focus on finding ways other than one employee, one car to get people to work.

Certainly the issue isn't a new one for the post, but the situation has changed substantially in recent years, and is likely to change a good deal more over the next few years, thanks to changes brought about by the actions of the federal Base Closure and Realignment Commission - BRAC. APG has long since ceased to be an installation dominated by enlisted personnel. The post workforce has been dominated by civilian government employees and civilian employees of military contractors, and that shift was made even more pronounced by the BRAC changes.

This translates to an even smaller component of the post's staff being stationed on location, and an ever increasing number of people who need to use the gates twice a day, not to mention many of them wanting to be there at the same times.

It remains to be seen how successful the Army and Harford County will be at easing traffic issues on the roadways around APG. It's a problem that's also exacerbated by a general abdication on the part of governments at all levels to make provision for expanding the capacity of local roadways.

As bad as the traffic situation is, it's is likely to get worse, thanks to a lack of major upgrades to any feeder roads, but hopefully the new transportation center effort will help ease the pain a little bit. Even if a more few people working at APG start carpooling or riding Harford Transit, it will make a marked difference in the number of vehicles on the road each working day.

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