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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Base officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the nearly finished passenger terminal “drop-off” lane here Thursday.

The lane is paved, said Col. David Johnson, 733rd Air Mobility Squadron, but construction barriers must be removed and the traffic lines painted before the project is officially completed Feb. 4.

Prior to the $845,000 project, that began in August, passengers were forced to tote baggage down a hill and across a parking lot closed because of force protection concerns.

The new lane offers curbside service and a ramp installed on the hill near the short-term parking lot makes that trek easier, Johnson said. Baggage carts also are available.

Johnson said force protection is no longer a concern because of a “blast wall” lining the new lane.

The L-shaped wall, which is anchored several feet into the ground, would help protect the terminal in an explosion.

Safety was key, Johnson said, but an eye-catching appearance was also important.

“What we have on the outside is a campus look, not an industrial look,” he said.

Other changes inside the building help give the terminal a civilian feel, Johnson said, including moving security checkpoints to the gate area, instead of the entrance, and hanging flight status monitors.

Col. Gail Wojtowicz, commander of the 715th Air Mobility Operations Group, said the changes mean better customer service, which is important to Kadena because of the number of passengers it handles.

Kadena has the “largest passenger terminal in the Air Mobility Command with 15,000 passengers coming through each month,” said Wojtowicz.

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