OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Camp Humphreys helicopter base residents soon will find it takes less time to drive to the installation’s commercial center, with its post exchange, commissary and other key services.

Workers are laying a new stretch of road running from Freedom Road — the base’s main thoroughfare — straight into what officials refer to as the on-base “downtown” commercial hub. That area also houses the bus station, Army lodging facility, base theater, library, education center and gym, among others.

The two-phase project is part of a larger effort to gradually upgrade Humphreys’ grounds, buildings and services, as the base expands to a military hub, replacing Yongsan Garrison in Seoul.

The U.S. military plans to move a large portion of its forces south of Seoul, mainly to the Pyongtaek region including Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Base.

Both installations are revving up to play those new, expanded roles with various contruction projects in the works.

In the road project’s first phase, workers are building a 200-foot-long traffic loop which will spare motorists from having to take the much longer, existing route to get from Freedom Road to the downtown district, saving about five minutes of driving, said Bart Mirabal, Camp Humphreys public works chief.

“Before, you needed to go around to the downtown area,” Mirabal said. “Now you can go straight into it from the main road.”

Work began in January and is set to finish in mid-June, Mirabal said. Yibon Construction Co. Ltd. is performing the work under contract with the U.S. Army Contracting Command-Korea.

Under the second phase, workers will complete a second, 300-foot road by mid-July that will provide a quicker route between the base medical clinic and the downtown district. Both phases will add new landscaping and parking spaces to the base, said Mirabal.

“It’s part of the short-range plan that allows me to bring the installation to a level that will be compatible to whatever we construct in the future,” he said.

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