Naval Weapons Station Earle has an added level of security thanks to the completion of a permanent Main Entrance Control Point (ECP).

A grand opening ceremony was held for the ECP on Thursday, with military officials joined by Congressman Chris Smith and Monmouth Freeholder Lillian Burry.

The structure, which looks like a double bay garage, will serve as the funnel through which security personnel will screen vehicles entering the base for credentials. The 8.4 million dollar project took two years to construct, however the practice of cordoning the entrance has been going on for nearly a decade, as part of post-9/11 regulation.

Vehicles with proper base credentials will go through one lane into a designated bay of the ECP for entry, while commercial and non cleared vehicles go into the other for a more thorough screening. It even allows large construction vehicles to enter the base via a third outdoor screening lane.

Naval Station Earle spokesperson Michael Brady explains in addition to the ECP, several access road where constructed to better navigate the flow of traffic into the facility.

“It makes it easier, we used to have one lane in, if a big truck came and maybe wasn’t going to be getting access it backed things up, sometimes even onto route 34 which we want to avoid.

Prior the construction of the new ECP, a large tent served as the facility for which entering vehicles were screened. However, this posed problems for both the staff during the harsh winter months.

While other military bases throughout the state were originally designed to have open access (like Fort Monmouth), Brady notes Earle was always a more secure base. However as times changed, and especially after September 11th, it became important to install a more efficient means of screening visitors.

”In 1943 this place was designed for a straight shot in, straight shot out. Once you had to detain people sometimes to inspect their vehicles or you didn’t want things to back up so we have a new passing ID, inspection facility, new access roads, and new parking lots.”

The structure is equipped with solar panels, high efficiency lighting with occupation sensors, as well as recycled materials used in the construction.

Funding for the ECP was all Federal, as part of Congresses Military Construction Program, which has the Department of Defense identify worthwhile military projects to be funded.

Congressman Chris Smith, who was on hand for the ribbon cutting was one of the sponsors in getting Earle’s ECP project funded.