CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — Workers began demolition of Camp Red Cloud’s front fence Tuesday, kicking off a project that will shave 45 to 60 feet off the front of the base by January, 11 months ahead of schedule.

It wasn’t exactly the fall of the Berlin Wall, but when workers started to tear down the concrete fence, Uijeongbu City residents moved a step closer to freedom from the traffic congestion that plagues the road in front of the base.

The city is funding an $11 million project to widen the State Highway 3 bypass, the road that passes Camp Red Cloud’s front gate, from four to eight lanes to alleviate congestion.

About 70,000 vehicles pass the camp daily, according to local news reports, and traffic bottlenecks at the camp’s front gate where some cars wait to turn into the installation.

The project was scheduled for a December 2006 completion but now is on track finish by January, 2nd Infantry Division commander Maj. George A. Higgins told U.S. and South Korean dignitaries gathered to watch the first piece of the wall come down.

“As this part of the city has grown in the direction of Camp Red Cloud over the years, [the Highway 3 bypass] has become a very busy and therefore a pivotal part of the transportation network in Uijeongbu City,” he said.

Second ID and Area I Support Activity directed the accelerated construction on a new front wall, set back 45 to 60 feet from the old wall, and that project is ahead of schedule, Higgins said.

So far the new wall extends from the southwest corner of the camp, past the Army Community Services building to the filling station. Eventually it will extend along the entire front of the base, officials said.

“I am very pleased with our project and grateful that the hard work by our Korean contractors has enabled accelerated construction.… This offers us the opportunity to move along in the process of returning property needed to expand (the bypass) to our good neighbors in the city of Uijeongbu,” Higgins said.

Early completion of the fence demolition project also may aid early completion of the road-widening project, Higgins said.

Uijeongbu mayor Kim Mun-won thanked the military for the early return of the land.

Edward Harris, Directorate of Public Works director for U.S. military camps in Uijeongbu, said in May that a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers feasibility study determined five major facilities at the camp must be demolished and rebuilt as part of the project.

The biggest ticket item will be rebuilding the front gate at a cost of $3 million. The recently refurbished entrance, including a new guard post and the front wall covered in ornamental rocks, will be demolished. The new gate will have two-way traffic, pop-up barriers and barriers to slow traffic.

The road project — in detail

Uijeongbu City is funding an $11 million project to widen the State Highway 3 bypass — the road that passes Camp Red Cloud’s front gate — from four to eight lanes to alleviate congestion.

The following is a list of buildings and structures to be rebuilt as part of the road-widening project:

The 2nd ID band building will be rebuilt as a two-story structure near the golf course’s ninth hole at a cost of $2.8 million.A Headquarters Headquarters Company civil operations facility will be rebuilt next to the Commanding General’s Mess at a cost of $1.8 million.An Army and Air Force Exchange Service gas station will be moved next to the commissary at a cost of $1.5 million.The bus and taxi station also will be moved next to the commissary at a cost of $900,000.

Rebuilding of the front gate will cost $3 million.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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