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Yokota Air Base’s South Gate — a convenient base entryway for some commuters — has reopened weekdays to accommodate vehicles rerouted from the temporarily shuttered Supply Gate, military officials said this week.

The convenience will be short-lived, they said: The gate is expected to close again in August.

For now, though, the gate’s current hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. It reopened March 1. Anyone who has a base vehicle pass — primarily contractors and delivery vehicles — or a U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement vehicle sticker may use the gate.

From about June 8 through July 31, the gate will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while the East Gate closes for upgrades.

After that, construction efforts shift to the South Gate. It’s slated to be closed through January — and officials have no plans to reopen it again on a regular basis.

“Although the South Gate is a convenient entry point for a portion of the population, we do not have sufficient security forces manning to keep it open along with the other gates,” said Col. Mark Correll, the 374th Mission Support Group commander. “We also believe that the five other gates we have are adequate to meet the needs of Yokota.”

Yokota’s six gates are undergoing a combined $1.8 million in force-protection improvements, to include new guard shacks, bollards and traffic-control devices.

The project began Sept. 23 with the Terminal Gate’s closure. South Gate and Fussa Gate — the final gates slated for upgrades — will be closed from approximately Aug. 1 to Jan. 31.

The South Gate is important to Yokota, Correll said, because it gives commanders flexibility in providing or restricting base access.

If a demonstration forced closure of other gates, for example, the South Gate could be opened for base residents and employees, he added. Also, “if we were in a situation where we need to expand the number of contractors or suppliers entering the base beyond what the Supply Gate could efficiently handle, then the South Gate could be used.”

The South Gate will receive about $88,000 in force-protection upgrades — the lowest construction dollar figure among all the gates. About two years ago, a new guard shack and gate were installed there.

Schedule

Schedule of current and upcoming gate closures at Yokota Air Base (dates are subject to delays due to unforeseen site conditions or weather):

Supply Gate: March 1 to June 7

East Gate: June 8 to July 31

Fussa Gate: Aug. 1 to Jan. 31, 2005

South Gate: Aug. 1 to Jan. 31, 2005

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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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