Refurbished Tinker Gate brings improved safety, security

  • Published
  • By Paul Shirk
  • 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

After 11 months of upgrades, Tinker Air Force Base’s main gate has reopened to traffic, boasting a number of safety and security improvements.

The $3.4 million project was completed early, easing access for the thousands of vehicles that transit the gate every week, part of a process to bring Tinker’s gates into compliance with updated security requirements.

“We have had construction ongoing since 2018 to bring our gates into compliance with Department of Defense security standards and provide Security Forces with quality facilities and operational systems at each gate,” said Stephanie Wilson, Tinker civil engineer with the 72nd Air Base Wing Civil Engineering Directorate. “We appreciate the patience of Team Tinker and look forward to completing these improvements over the next 12-15 months.”

The improved Tinker Gate opened Dec. 26, 2021. Improvements focused on increasing the gate’s operational capacity and security capabilities, as well as improving safety for the Defenders who staff the gate and those who pass through it.

Drivers and pedestrians will notice major safety improvements. Sidewalks connecting the I-40 overpass intersection, visitor center, guard house and Exchange/Commissary parking lot were added. The sidewalks feature Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramps and crosswalk striping.

The new sidewalks will make it easier and safer for Airmen living in the dormitories, who may not own a car, to access off-base resources such as shopping, public transportation and rideshare services.

On the security front, two vehicle inspection areas with shelters and 42 additional lights were added. A larger, more protective guard house was also installed. This has the side benefit of allowing more Defenders to be stationed at the gate to respond to traffic demand.

Traffic control features such as automatic drop arms and integrated lane lights will help manage traffic during peak travel times.

“Upgrades to the gate include automated swing arms in each lane to facilitate a much faster turnaround process when vehicles approach the gate without proper credentials,” Wilson said. “This automated process replaces the need for Defenders to walk out into the outbound lanes to place stop sticks to halt traffic for turnarounds.”

Contracts for the upgrades were awarded in October 2018 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, specifying work on the Tinker, Piazza and Lancer Gates. Work on the Piazza Gate was completed in July 2021.

Similar work on the Lancer Gate is expected to begin in March once work is complete on the Liberator Gate, lasting an estimated 12 months.

In addition, Wilson said Hruskocy Gate construction is ongoing.

“Most of the construction including a gate house, canopy, and lighting is being worked west of the current inbound lanes so there is no disruption to traffic,” she said. “However, once this work is complete the gate will close for a brief period for installation of the final denial barrier system and demolition of the existing gate house.”

The Tinker Gate is named in honor of Maj. Gen. Clarence L. Tinker, a native Oklahoman who lost his life while on a combat mission near Wake Island in the Pacific, during World War II.