LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
The reopening of Texas State Highway Loop 79 marks the beginning of operations at Laughlin’s west gate, which will officially happen June 29, 2018 at 10 p.m. here.
This change will also come with numerous street signs changes on Laughlin, meant to accommodate incoming and outgoing traffic from the new gate.
Motorists traveling on Laughlin will see stop signs at Mitchell Boulevard, Laughlin Drive, and Arnold Boulevard removed and placed at intersections, stopping traffic across Barnes Street and Liberty Drive.
Once the stop signs are moved, the base’s main roads will move from what used to be exclusively Liberty Drive to Mitchell Boulevard, Laughlin Drive, and Arnold Boulevard.
Paris Laba, 47th Civil Engineer Squadron civil engineer technician, says changing from one main street to three separate roads across base will help speed up traffic during peak hours.
“The changes help make traffic flow smoother,” he said. “Once you do get on base, there won’t be a single stop sign until you get to Barnes Street. It’s a straight shot once you pass the gate.”
Mitchell Boulevard and Arnold Boulevard converge with Laughlin Drive at Laughlin’s traffic circle. While traffic circles may not be common in some areas, Laba believes the circle will help expedite traffic throughout the base, specifically while entering and exiting the base.
“Roundabouts do not hamper traffic in any way,” he said. “There’s many efficiencies in traffic circles that not only help motorists but the flow of traffic as well. It’s all around a good way to manage traffic.”
During peak hours, the lines will not be crossing or stopped on active train tracks like the current north gate. Along with moving motorists away from the tracks, Spur 277 is set up more to accommodate traffic unlike the current north gate, which queues motorists dangerously on the U.S. Highway 90.
“The spur doesn’t get crowded like highway 90 does, with it having an on-ramp instead of a stop sign,” Laba elaborated. “It’s optimistic, but there shouldn’t be a big line down the highway like we see right now.”
With all the traffic flow changes taking place very quickly, Laba is asking for motorists to recognize and be vigilant of the changing signage. Though, Laba believes, the breaking-in period for the changes will be short.
“There’s going to be some shock initially, but also it will be a self-correcting problem,” he said. “The predominant traffic is going to be from the gate to the flightline, so for many individuals I don’t see it being a problem. For those who drive around base though, it may take some getting used to.”
For further information about the traffic changes or the gate opening, please contact the 47th Flying Training Wing public affairs office at (830) 298-5262, or by email at 47FTWPA.Tasker@us.af.mil.