YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Base officials closed Fussa Gate to vehicle traffic Tuesday as workers prepared to install new force-protection measures and reconfigure the entrance area in a bid to boost traffic flow.

The $1.8 million project, paid for with U.S. funds, is expected to be completed by year’s end. During construction, Yokota’s main entrance will be open 24 hours a day to pedestrian traffic.

“This will enhance force protection and allow the gate to be more functional and modern,” said 1st Lt. Warren Comer, a 374th Airlift Wing spokesman. “We’ll make it easier to get in and out of the base and also make it easier for security forces to do their jobs.”

The renovations are aimed at upgrading security, easing traffic congestion and polishing the gate’s overall appearance, said Col. Bill Story, 374th Mission Support Group commander. Similar improvements already have been made to the base’s other gates.

The four-month closure won’t affect Yokota traffic significantly, Story predicted. Motorists who normally use Fussa Gate likely will use Terminal Gate, while East Gate also remains fully operational.

Guest drivers will continue obtaining vehicle passes at the Supply Gate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each weekday, said Maj. Scott Ulrich, 374th Security Forces Squadron commander. From 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., when Supply Gate is closed, those will be processed at Terminal Gate.

Visitor’s passes for those who walk onto the base will be issued around the clock at the Visitor Control Center inside Fussa Gate.

“This closure will have little effect on base,” Ulrich said. “It will improve security and streamline traffic flow — and make the gate more aesthetic.”

The work also should provide improved visitor processing, said Raul Visaya, chief of the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Civil Design Sub-Element.

The Fussa Gate construction is being performed by Taisei U-Lec Company Ltd., a local contractor, he said.

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