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HEIDELBERG, Germany — The “Burger King Gate” leading into Patrick Henry Village not only has long been considered substandard, it is also the entrance to the U.S. installation here with the largest population.

That’s why construction on a new, enlarged and improved gate is scheduled to begin late next month, according to U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg officials.

The gate will be under construction for some nine months, give or take problems with winter weather and price negotiations.

Expanding one incoming lane to three, adding a roof, vehicle inspection bays, a guardhouse, fencing and security cameras won’t be cheap. The lowest bid from German construction firms was 20 percent higher than estimates — amounting to nearly $3 million, said Klaus Roth, the garrison’s chief of public works. Still, Roth said, he expects the work will start as scheduled.

“After Christmas, we hope negotiations will be complete,” Roth said.

Roth said people at Patrick Henry Village won’t suffer any major delays getting on or off the post as the work is done because the construction workers, their equipment and vehicles will have their own access gate.

Additionally, there will be just one exit during construction: the commissary gate. Roth said he didn’t expect that would pose any congestion problems.

In-bound drivers will see little difference between the current one-lane check-in and the one-lane check-in that will be used during construction, Roth said. The same number of guards will be on duty.

When it’s completed, though, they’ll see a major difference: Three in-bound traffic checkpoints, three vehicle inspection bays, a protected exit route for vehicles denied access to the installation and a guardhouse. Access to the post will be quicker and more secure, Roth said.

“Normally, one to two lanes will be open,” Roth said.

The design is similar to an upgrade of one of the gates at Campbell Barracks in 2005.

Although the garrison’s public works department is managing the project, it was designed by the German Federal Construction Agency.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
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