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Work on a new 35-foot bridge connecting the U.S. Navy’s Ikego Family Housing Area to the Keihin Keikyu line’s Jimmuji Station is scheduled to start this spring. The station is easily visible from base, but Ikego residents and visitors currently must walk up to 30 minutes reach it.
Work on a new 35-foot bridge connecting the U.S. Navy’s Ikego Family Housing Area to the Keihin Keikyu line’s Jimmuji Station is scheduled to start this spring. The station is easily visible from base, but Ikego residents and visitors currently must walk up to 30 minutes reach it. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

ZUSHI CITY, Japan — You might see trains stopping at the Keihin Keikyu line’s Jimmuji Station from a window at your home in the Ikego Family Housing area.

You can definitely hear them while shopping at the mini-mart.

But actually hopping on a train — if you live in the U.S. Navy housing area near Yokosuka Naval Base — involves up to a 30-minute walk along one side of the fence line, then back on the other side, said resident Veronica Chaix.

“It’s a huge U-turn and it’s hard when you’re pushing a stroller or it’s raining,” she said. “It’s tricky. The station looks close, but it’s so far away.”

That a new 35-foot bridge soon will trim her trek to about two minutes is “great news,” she said.

The pedestrian bridge project — 13 years in the making — is scheduled to break ground this spring at Ikego. Plans include a bridge that starts at Ikego’s gas station, spans the Ikego River and ends at the train station, a 310-square-foot ticket wicket and fare adjustment machine, a 90-square foot security shack, and landscaping.

These will provide “convenient, safe access” for residents to and from the station, said Cmdr. Rob Ganowski, who heads the Command Fleet Activities Yokosuka division of Navy Facilities Engineer Command Far East.

No longer will residents have to skirt the edges of busy Zushi streets. They may even start using the train more, he said, which would cut down on vehicle traffic.

The project cost estimate is 83,000,000 yen (about $720,000). The cost falls under the Japan Facilities Improvement Program (JFIP), which involves a number of U.S. and Japanese players. This was the “first time” the government of Japan coordinated the construction of a new wicket facility with a railroad company, Ganowski said. The target completion date is March 31, 2007, he said.

The security side will be handled by Ikego, which will have posted guards patrolling the ticket sales and checking identification during the hours the train station is open, said Lt. Cmdr. Kirstina Shore, Ikego’s officer in charge. Signs will be posted informing the public it’s a U.S. Navy facility and security cameras will be installed, she said.

Residents are “eagerly awaiting” the shortcut, Shore said. The station being in sight yet still a long hike away is “frustrating,” she said. “If the station were not within eyesight, it probably wouldn’t be an issue. So people are going to love that bridge.”

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