MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — A new gate bearing the name of a fruit is scheduled to open here in December.

The Apple Gate, on the east side of base near the former 3rd Space Surveillance Squadron building, is intended to divert heavy truck traffic from the neighboring village of Kamakita, said Maj. Joe Milner, 35th Security Forces Squadron Commander.

In written responses to Stars and Stripes’ questions about the new gate, Milner said Kamakita residents, through the Sendai Defense Facilities Administration Bureau, asked Misawa city to alleviate the traffic problem. Misawa Mayor Shigeyoshi Suzuki supported the project, Milner stated.

Briefly used after Sept. 11, 2001, the Kamakita Gate on Security Hill reopened in March to meet a Pacific Air Forces mandate that contract vehicles 3/4-ton and larger be inspected. The vehicle checks occur inside the gate in a large, open parking area. The gate can be accessed only by driving through Kamakita village.

“The Apple Gate is opening because the Kamakita Gate was causing so many community disruptions when we routed 650 to 725 heavy vehicles a day through their little village,” Milner wrote. “It is also more convenient for the truck drivers as they are closer to the highway entrances and do not have to go through Misawa City to get to Kamakita gate. It is a win-win situation for everyone.”

The Apple Gate will replace Kamakita Gate as the primary commercial vehicle entry and search area for the base, Milner wrote. Kamakita Gate will close when the new gate opens.

Pacific Air Forces is paying $475,000 for the project, to cover the needed asphalt and gate construction, Milner stated. Misawa city also is contributing funds to complete the road from off base to the perimeter fence and to the base road. Construction began earlier this month and is expected to be completed between Nov. 15 and Dec. 1.

The new gate is to be open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, for contractors making deliveries on base. They will not be able to exit from the gate, Milner noted.

As for the name, a contractor with the Army Corps of Engineers, which is building the gate portion, suggested that base officials name the gate after something significant to Aomori Prefecture and the Misawa area, Milner said. “The suggestion was made to call it ‘Apple Gate’ since apples are a major produce northern Japan is known for,” he wrote. “The name just seems to have stuck.”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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