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PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Several major steps are under way, or will be in coming months, to further prepare Camp Humphreys to become the U.S. military’s flagship installation in South Korea, officials said.

Work crews will lay underground utilities systems on several parcels slated to become part of an enlarged Humphreys. They’ll also upgrade the utility system inside the existing installation.

Clearing debris and vegetation has already begun on a parcel that eventually will be the site of the headquarters for the top U.S. military command in South Korea and other senior commands.

The work will go forward under a $480 million contract that is believed to be the largest ever awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Far East District, which works on projects in South Korea.

"As far as we can determine, it’s by far the biggest we’ve ever dealt with," said Fred Davis, chief of the FED’s Korea Relocation Program Office. "Normally we deal with contracts in the range of $20 [million] to $50 million."

Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek is tripling in size to eventually be the headquarters for the U.S. military in South Korea and home to the bulk of peninsula-based U.S. forces. The project is set to cost nearly $13 billion.

The post will eventually consist of the existing installation and a new section being built on a vast tract of adjoining lands.

A utility system will go in at what planners call Parcel 1. Work should start late this fall and be done by March 2011. Six barracks are already under construction on the site. But also to be built are motor pools, a military communications complex, housing for unaccompanied senior leaders, and a "midtown community" complex that’s to include a new chapel, library, veterinary clinic, auto craft shop, shoppette and gas station.

A utilities system will be laid at Parcel K, with work to start next spring and finish by March 2011. The site will include a housing complex with 1,800 apartments, an elementary and a high school, and a child development center. Construction is to start next month and the entire complex is to be finished by the summer of 2012.

Clearing land for eventual laying of a six- to nine-foot blanket of earth has already begun on Parcel 2A, the site of headquarters for U.S. Forces Korea and 8th U.S. Army, as well as a training complex and other structures. The landfill will raise the site to protect it from flooding from the nearby river.

Workers will give the landfill six to eight months to settle before starting on construction of roads, a utilities system and storm water basin, Davis said. The first construction of buildings should start in about 18 months.

Inside the existing Camp Humphreys, crews will begin an overhaul of most of the roads and utility system. Work is to start in September and be finished by May 2012.

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