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Breaking barriers: Army opens first-of-its-kind ACP in Germany

US Army Corps of Engineers Europe District
Published Feb. 10, 2015
Representatives from U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, U.S Army Europe, Installation Management Command-Europe, the German armed forces and ministries of construction and finance, URS Deutschland, Hermanns and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District officially opened the $6.3 million ACP with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 28. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Jennifer Aldridge)

Representatives from U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, U.S Army Europe, Installation Management Command-Europe, the German armed forces and ministries of construction and finance, URS Deutschland, Hermanns and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District officially opened the $6.3 million ACP with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 28. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Jennifer Aldridge)

WIESBADEN, Germany — The Clay Kaserne Access Control Point is the first Department of Defense project worldwide to employ a new active vehicle barrier safety scheme, known as High Efficiency Presence Detection.

Representatives from U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, U.S Army Europe, Installation Management Command-Europe, the German armed forces and ministries of construction and finance, URS Deutschland, Heintzmann and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District officially opened the $6.3 million ACP with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 28.

The state-of-the-art safety scheme, developed by Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command’s Transportation Engineering Agency and commissioned by USACE Protective Design Mandatory Center of Expertise, provided USAG Wiesbaden the ability to reduce the length of the response zone and overall ACP construction costs. The response zone is the ACP area where active vehicle barriers can be secured to deter or defeat threats.

This ACP didn’t require as much physical space as others do, said Matthew Bryant, a Europe District project manager.

“It saves the garrison money because it takes up less space — there were fewer acres of land to buy and will be fewer to maintain,” he said.

The newly developed safety scheme was critical to project because having the MSDDCTEA develop the HEPD, it becomes part of the standard design for ACPs. Under the old specification the ACP would have cost more than twice as much and required additional acres of land. Neither additional funding nor real estate was available.

“This new scheme provides both security and safety — we were able to get an ACP to accommodate 1,600 vehicles per hour,” he said.

Gaining authorization to utilize the new safety scheme was a complex and time-consuming effort. The final ACP design required a waiver from a three-star general, Bryant said.

“The project was successful because a lot of people, at a lot of different levels, were talking and working together,” he said. “People honestly came together to say, ‘What do we need to do to make this a success?’” 

Success, as defined by project stakeholders, was achieved during a wet, chilly week in mid-January, when the ACP was officially tested and commissioned by officials from Omaha District’s Protective Design Center and ACP Center of Standardization.

The commissioning team worked 12-to-13-hour days to complete testing on time. The testing was constrained not only by the turnover date, but also by the team’s travel and labor costs, said Brian Erickson, Protective Design Mandatory Center of Expertise technical expert and commissioning team leader. 

“We have traveled as many as four times to test the same ACP in the U.S. because the contractor was not ready,” he said. “We made certain with Matt that the contractor did all the testing before we came over.” 

USACE requires construction contractors to run all active vehicle barrier system tests on their own before the commissioning team arrives, but they do not always comply, Bryant said.

“When Omaha got here, we were ready, because it was the only chance we got,” he said.

More than a thousand tests were performed on the ACP’s four auto entry lanes, two truck lanes, two outbound lanes and dedicated pedestrian lane. Results were noted on a 107-page protocol checklist and issues were addressed with system adjustments, said Robert Saari, Omaha District’s Center of Standardization program manager.

“Before we went over to Germany, we had a long list of items required to do the testing,” he said. “Matt and Pat [Brady] did a great job and got us everything we needed — including a motorcycle, trucks, Soldiers and extra people.”

Brady acted as Europe District’s project engineer, working in the field to oversee the bauamt, or German construction representatives, and the contractor.

As the Army’s life-cycle program management office for ACPs, the Omaha team is responsible for rigorously testing all active vehicle barrier systems constructed at garrisons worldwide.

Quite often, system problems are revealed during testing, Saari said. 

“We have never traveled to a site and had a completely clean test,” he added. 

The Clay Kaserne ACP is more complex than anything the team has experienced before, said Mark McNamara, an Omaha District technical expert and commissioning team co-leader. 

“People tend to view ACPs as road projects,” he added. “They are actually very large and complex systems of duress alarms, barrier controls, intrusion detection, communication and camera-surveillance systems. They all have to work together to contain threats at a moment’s notice. 

“An ACP is more than a guard checking ID cards.” 

During the Clay Kaserne commissioning, there were a few times when adjustments to the active vehicle barrier programming necessitated a complete testing restart, Saari said.

“It made for a long and tense week, but in the end, successful results were obtained,” he said. 

Erikson said gate projects certainly take engineers, program managers and partners down a unique path. 

“No one thinks the same of an ACP after being involved in constructing one,” he added.