Families heading to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island for graduation ceremonies may be in for some delays as the installation adapts to new traffic patterns following the opening of new entrance gate.
Parris Island officially opened the $9 million entrance gate with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday. The new entrance, on Horse Island across Battery Creek from the old entrance gate, has three processing lanes that will eventually speed up the process of getting onto the base and stop traffic backups from building along U.S. 21.
But as the installation and the families attending graduation adapt to new traffic patterns caused by the gate's opening, some early delays are to be expected, Parris Island public affairs director Capt. Gregory Carroll said Thursday.
Traffic for Marine graduation events will use different traffic patterns than the rest of the week, directing visitors to use the rightmost lanes through the vehicle inspection area, Carroll said.
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Construction of the new gate began in July 2014.
The old gate, built in 1941 just off Parris Island Gateway, was ill-equipped to handle thorough searches, and long delays at the gate lead to major traffic jams in Port Royal.
Traffic delays began to mount around the same time construction of the new gate started, when base security began using a mobile ID scanner to check drivers coming onto Parris Island.
A replacement gate to address safety and traffic had first been proposed in 2010, but money for its construction was not allocated until 2014.
The new entry lanes allow base security to separate and screen commercial and non-commercial vehicles, Carroll said. He did not go into detail about what stricter security measures will be in place, but said the new entrance meets or exceeds all current Department of Defense security standards.
The new measures were not in response to any recent events, he said.
"We are proud to now have a gate to welcome back those who have given so much and asked for so little while also welcoming the future of our Marine Corps as they begin their transformation," Carroll said.
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.