Unused gate at Aviano could soon see traffic
Stars and Stripes March 7, 2008
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Some airmen have served an entire tour at Aviano since work was completed inside the perimeter on a new base entryway.
However, the gate that might eventually be the busiest on base hasn’t been used at all since it was erected more than two years ago, leading some to call it “the gate to nowhere.”
“I prefer the nickname, ‘the trophy gate,’” said Steve Rose, chief of Aviano’s Project Management Office.
Whatever it’s called, the gate hasn’t been used because it leads only to the perimeter fence and an empty cornfield on the other side. But if a construction schedule holds true, traffic could be passing through it by the end of the year.
Gianni Brusadin, in charge of road construction for the province of Pordenone, said construction on a pair of new roundabouts and an access road to the gate should start around March 20. He said in a telephone interview
Thursday that work is expected to take about 200 days.
That’s good news for those who work or live on base, because getting on base has become a bit more difficult recently.
Rose said the back gate that faces Budoia and Vigonovo is being converted into an entrance for large trucks used by contractors. As a result, traffic is limited to a few hours in the morning and afternoon. Eventually, access will be for contractors only. When that gate is open, the current gate that contractors use off the busy road that Americans call the “AP Highway” will close.
The main gate, on the northeast side of the base, also is located off the AP Highway via a twisting underpass built in 2002. The new south gate also will be accessed from the AP Highway via one of the new roundabouts.
Brusadin said that about 15,000 cars daily use the main road that connects Aviano to Pordenone, so work will be completed in a way that doesn’t halt traffic. He said the roadwork on the outside of the base perimeter took longer to get started because it is funded not only by the U.S. military, but also by the Italian government. And property needed to be obtained from local owners.
Rose said the United States budgeted about $1.4 million to pay for work on both the inside and outside of the fence.
The goal all along has been to avoid having traffic enter the base directly from the main road and to eliminate the lighted intersections.
The base had originally planned to have the south gate connect to another road through the cornfield, but that wasn’t deemed viable. Instead, the access road will follow the outside of the base perimeter from the roundabout until it meets up with the gate.
“It’s almost like two different projects,” Rose said. “We were joking about placing a golden spike when the two finally meet, just like they did with the railroad in the old West.”
Valentina Lehman provided translation for this report.