GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The Army is looking at options for an on-post road linking Vilseck and Grafenwöhr or shortening the off-post driving distance by opening another vehicle access gate at Vilseck.

“U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwöhr is looking into possibilities for an additional access gate to Vilseck and a road between the Graf (Grafenwöhr) and Vilseck military installations on GTA (Grafenwöhr Training Area) property,” U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwöhr spokeswoman Susanne Bartsch said in an e-mail.

The proposals were first mentioned by officials at a town hall meeting in Vilseck in January.

Traffic between the two posts, which are about 15 miles apart, is likely to increase with the arrival of thousands of soldiers and family members to Grafenwöhr over the next few years.

Another factor that will result in more traffic is the location of key facilities, designed to serve both posts, such as a new post exchange/commissary at Grafenwöhr.

Some audience members at the Vilseck town hall meeting proposed allowing U.S. civilian vehicles to use the on-post “tank trail” to travel between Vilseck and Grafenwöhr.

The tank trail is a sealed, two-lane road that significantly cuts drive time between the posts, compared with the off-post route along the B-299 highway. Speed limits on the tank trail range from about 25 to 40 mph, compared with up to 62 mph on the off-post road.

Brig Gen. David G. Perkins, the Joint Multinational Training Command chief, told the audience there are issues with opening the tank trail to civilian traffic.

“The problem is that what is on the tank trails is generally tanks and Strykers (wheeled armored personnel carriers). The concern is … (the risk) if we have civilian traffic on road with tanks and Styrkers,” he said.

Perkins said the danger of mixing civilian traffic with heavy military vehicles outweighs the danger of civilians driving on the state highway, which can be extremely slippery when roads are covered with snow.

A 17-year-old American driver was killed Monday on the B-299 near Grafenwöhr after he attempted to pass a bus in his Peugeot 306 car and struck an oncoming Jeep, driven by another American.

The driver of the Jeep remained hospitalized Tuesday, according to Werner Stopfer of the Weiden police.

Stopfer said that since 2004 there have been eight accidents within two kilometers of where Monday’s accident happened. The accident occurred on a straight stretch of road where motorists often speed, but German police monitor the area with radar, he said.

Barsch said Tuesday that military police do not keep statistics on off-post road accidents involving U.S. personnel.

Perkins told the town hall meeting that the proposal to open another vehicle access gate at Vilseck also has problems.

“The problem is that the road crosses an unguarded rail crossing where a vehicle has been hit previously,” he said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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