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CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — Blanketing a 200-acre tract with a thick layer of dirt will be the first big step in getting land near Camp Humphreys ready for the post’s eventual expansion, project officials have said.

The post is slated to triple in size and become the U.S. military’s chief installation in South Korea in coming years under a South Korea-U.S. agreement.

The post will expand onto a 2,328-acre expanse of land near Camp Humphreys, which is in Pyeongtaek.

A key first step is covering that expanse with landfill.

“You can’t build without it,” Larry Monaco, deputy director of the Project Integration Office at U.S. Forces Korea (Advance Element) headquarters at Camp Humphreys, said Thursday.

The first part of that landfill project will occur on what planners call Parcel 1, which borders Camp Humphreys’ southwestern portion.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District officials are evaluating proposals from construction contractors who’ve bid for the job, Monaco said.

They hope to award a contract before the end of this month, begin actual landfill work in early 2007 and finish in about a year. Other Parcel 1 work also will be under way in that period, Monaco said.

The landfill is needed to make the ground a more suitable surface for eventual building construction, USFK officials have said.

Landfill eventually will be laid over the entire expansion area.

“We anticipate a dramatic increase in construction vehicle traffic” at Camp Humphreys once the Parcel 1 landfill job starts, Monaco said.

The U.S. military plans to spend an estimated $5 billion on construction as part of the Humphreys expansion, USFK officials have said previously.

Plans call for building an array of structures, including barracks, headquarters, motor pools, training areas, family housing complexes, schools, and numerous shopping and recreational facilities, the officials have said.

The expanded installation is to be home to the bulk of the peninsula’s U.S. forces, including those now stationed in and north of Seoul, officials have said.

USFK gradually is consolidating its forces into two regional hubs. One is in Pyeongtaek in west-central South Korea, an area including Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Base. The other is in the Daegu-Busan region in the peninsula’s southeast.

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