The road to the Pantex Plant just got a little longer but a whole lot safer for contractors and delivery drivers.
Pantex officials Tuesday dedicated a new stretch of paved road that will help alleviate a large, dangerous traffic problem caused by an influx of vehicles traveling to the new High Explosives Pressing Facility (HEPF) construction site.
“It quickly became clear that with the extra traffic from the HEPF, we had a serious problem with traffic,” said Dennis Huddleston, Projects Division manager. “Getting all of those additional vehicles on site created a potential issue with safety and security.”
Until Tuesday, contractors and delivery drivers needing access into the Property Protection Area at Pantex drove down a short driveway near the Shipping and Receiving Facility to a security gate, where they were inspected and allowed on site.
The old approach was already at capacity, with 80-100 vehicles a day going through the contractor gate. Adding up to 200 more vehicles per day headed to the HEPF site made the situation untenable and caused traffic to back up onto public roads, further jeopardizing safety. The heavy traffic also impeded access to the Shipping and Receiving Facility.
Given the critical importance of completing the HEPF in a safe and timely manner without impacting other contractors trying to access the site, a change was in order. Huddleston said plans were quickly worked out to create a new paved road that curves for about half a mile north of the shipping and receiving facility. The 30-feet-wide roadway has lights for night approach and ends at a three-gate security station where vehicles can be inspected much more efficiently.
“We commend Pantex and the crews that worked so hard to complete this project,” said Johnnie Guelker, deputy assistant manager for Programs and Projects. “The HEPF is critical to the mission of Pantex and the entire nuclear weapons complex. This project is an important step in the completion of that facility.”