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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — So close, yet so far.

That’s the common sentiment behind the sigh of Ikego Housing Area residents who gaze at Jimmuji train station but know getting there entails a 20-minute walk.

Crows need fly only 50 feet or so.

The project to build a bridge connecting the Navy housing area to the train station has been in the works for 14 years.

But Ikego residents finally will start hearing their train bridge a-coming this summer, said John Clements, of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command’s planning and project development department.

A basic agreement signed July 20 by members of the Yokohama Defense Facilities Administration Bureau, U.S. Forces Japan, Commander Naval Facilities Japan, Keihin Kyuko Railways and the city of Zushi was a big step toward making the project a reality, Clements said in Yokosuka last week.

“Now that we have the agreements assigned, we can start the permitting process,” Clements said. “We are ready to go.”

Construction will start next month on the base entrance to Jimmuji station. The bridge will start behind Ikego’s gas station, span the Ikego River and end at the train station.

A ticket wicket and fare adjustment machine will be added, as will a security hut for accessing the base that will close when trains stop running.

This was the first time the Navy, the Japanese government and a private corporation have collaborated on such a project, which accounts for some of the delays, Yokosuka Naval Base commanding officer Capt. Daniel Weed said Thursday.

Fiscal restraints and a “challenging” past relationship with Zushi also figured into the equation, Weed said.

“Now we’ve established a process to work together,” he said.

The project will cost about $820,000, and the bridge should be ready in May, Clements said.

“And everyone can say ‘finally,’” Clements said.

“This will be a nice feature for residents there (at Ikego). There’s a major psychological factor. People walk 20 minutes from Yokosuka to the train station, but they don’t notice it. At Ikego, you notice, because you can see it.”


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