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Pedestrian access saves time, hassle at Washington Navy Yard

Turnstile Instructions
Proper use of the pedestrian access gates can prevent troubleshooting calls and delays during your morning commute. 1. Read the posted instructions, 2a. hold your CAC over the scanner, or 2b. swipe the CAC's barcode, 3. wait for the light to turn green, 4. walk through the turnstile

09/17/15 12:00 AM

By Patrick Gordon
NSAW Public Affairs Office

Commuters of the Washington Navy Yard know the morning routine at the Washington Navy Yard very well. Every morning at peak travel hours they are greeted by long lines of vehicles trailing up roads around the installation. But the frustration of traffic - and the inevitable search for parking - at the yard is easily avoidable. In fact, drivers pass by the solution every day on their way in and out of the gate: pedestrian access gates.

The pedestrian entry gates at the Navy Yard allow foot traffic to easily enter and exit the base with few to no delays. A further benefit of these gates is that no vehicle parking is required for personnel who access the installation by foot.

“In theory, the idea is that the more people are walking to work and using the pedestrian access, the fewer cars will be trying to access the vehicle gates and find parking on the yard,” said Kirk Avery, NSAW information technology installation program director. “But we still don’t have enough employees using public transportation to get to and from work and using those pedestrian gates.”

Avery cites his own experience using pedestrian access points as an argument against driving in to work every day.

“I mean, when I catch the metro, I just walk right on in to the yard,” said Avery. “But people who are driving are stuck in traffic. Walking down M Street I have seen cars lined all the way down the block waiting to drive on to the yard at the 6th Street gate. And it’s pretty telling that as a pedestrian I am moving faster than traffic to get on to the Navy Yard property.”

Using the pedestrian access gates is simple. Gates with pedestrian turnstiles are unlocked with a common access card scanner. When the scanner reads the CAC that information is sent to middleware which takes the information and sends it to Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. DEERS validates that person’s name against its database, and then sends it back to the middleware, which recognizes that card as valid and the turnstile is unlocked through the Lenel enterprise access control system allowing the individual to come through. For any personnel who experience trouble using the scanners, instructions are posted at most gates to ease use.

“A lot of people run into problems using the pedestrian access gates simply because they’re not using them correctly,” said Avery. “Remember to swipe the barcode part of your Common Access Card, not the magnetic stripe. Another feature of the reader is a small camera, but some people think that they can gain access by holding their card to the camera, which won’t do anything. So using proper procedure is key.”

Avery added that while the system is very effective, sometimes a gate will not read a CAC. Should this happen, he advises personnel to simply use one of the other gates to gain access to the yard.

“If someone tries to scan their ID at an unmanned gate and it doesn’t work, they just need to walk down to a manned access gate where security can scan the card and allow them access,” said Avery. “In most cases of that happening the ID scanner at the pedestrian gate simply are not reading the card properly, which is usually just a network or system issue. If the card worked yesterday and it’s just not reading today, it’s nothing to worry about. They just need to gain access to the yard through a manned gate.”

Pedestrian access is available at the following WNY gates:

6th Street Gate - 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday - Friday for pedestrians, turnstile access after 6 p.m. and weekends
9th Street and N Street Gates - ID Swipe access only via the turnstile
O Street Gate - Manned post 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Riverwalk Gates - Swipe access only via the turnstiles. If personnel experience malfunctions with DoD-issued ID cards at a pedestrian gate and cannot gain access via the turnstile, they are advised to email the turnstile access functional mailbox at to report the problem. When doing so, include your name, date, time, turnstile number, and the 10-digit ID number on the back of card.

And while using pedestrian access gates can reduce vehicle traffic, Avery points out that they save the Navy in many ways.

“The idea behind using electronic access control is to reduce man hours and reduce the number of bodies necessary to support these gates,” said Avery. “If you’re using your card to gain access to the base at a pedestrian-only gate, that frees up a police officer to patrol the yard who would otherwise have to be standing a post checking ID’s. So the scanners are two-fold: access control and man-hour reduction.”

So the next time you make your way to the Washington Navy Yard, ask yourself this: Where is your time best spent, inside or outside the gate?