For the second time in less than three years, a major Wright-Patterson gateway used daily by thousands of commuters will close for three weeks, according to base officials.
Gate 12A, near the Air Force Materiel Command headquarters and off Ohio 444 in Fairborn, is scheduled to close today through Nov. 10.
Crews will repave the road into the gate entrance and exit, shutting traffic in both directions. The gateway was last closed in 2015 for a $920,000 security upgrade.
Motorists should expect delays, a project official said. Fourteen thousand commuters — counting those both in and out — travel the gateway each day, Wright-Patterson figures show.
During the work, two traffic lanes will be kept open to both the Hope Hotel and Convention Center and Ogden Avenue, which leads to a base pass and ID office, said Ronald E. Lee, 88th Civil Engineer Group chief project manager.
The closure this time will mean Gate 15A, near Ohio 844, will be open 24 hours temporarily. An influx of traffic during the closure is expected at Gates 1A, off Springer Road, and Gate 26A, off Ohio 235 near Ohio 4.
Drainage problems caused potholes and eroded the roadway in front of the gate, where the $125,000 reconstruction project will install a new catch basin, drainage piping and mill out old pavement and repave the roadway, Lee said.
“We’re actually going to make pavement repairs outside the gate,” he said. “The gate itself is not going to be touched.”
Along with potentially causing heavier traffic for commuters to get on and off the base, a downtown Fairborn restaurant manager expected a sharp downturn in lunch patrons in the midst of the work.
“We’d see a big impact in a negative way,” said Kadir Kurt, manager of the Fairborn Family Diner and Restaurant on North Broad. He estimated 60 to 75 percent of lunch patrons drive from Wright-Patterson. “Our lunch business would go down a lot,” he said.
Matthew P. Owen, executive director of the Fairborn Area Chamber of Commerce, said some businesses might temporarily experience a minor downturn, but Fairborn businesses closer to gates staying open could see an influx of customers, such as those exiting from Gate 26A onto Ohio 235, which leads into downtown.
“It’s three weeks, and I think people who are loyal to a restaurant or a certain business are going to find a way to get there,” he said. “We hope that’s the case.
“I would think that if I want to get somewhere and I want to patronize a business, you can get there,” he added. “You may take a little bit longer to get out, but you can get there.”
Wright-Patterson is the largest single site employer in Ohio with more than 27,000 employees and has a more than $4 billion estimated regional economic impact.