Pyeongtaek City offers a bold vision for the future growth of the city and surrounding areas
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- Pyeongtaek City officials offered a promising view of the city's growth during a briefing to members of the Humphreys community on Oct. 17 at the Paengseong Community Center near here.
City officials described an international city with world-class educational, transportation, industrial and cultural facilities fueled by the growth of Camp Humphreys as well as new industrial complexes from Samsung and LG Electronics.
Pyeongtaek's population of about 460,000 will grow to 860,000 by 2020 when Samsung and LG complete their factories and workers relocate here. By 2035, Pyeongtaek's population is projected to be 1 million.
The growth will bring new shopping areas, recreational facilities and businesses to the city and around Camp Humphreys. The plan also details new highway, bus and rail access to the post, Pyeongtaek Port and the rest of Korea.
Since the plan to relocate U.S. Forces Korea to Camp Humphreys was announced, Pyeongtaek City has endeavored to provide diverse cultural opportunities to U.S. personnel assigned here. They include the ROK-U.S. One Heart Spring Festival, Korean-American Youth English Camp, Korean language, history and culture classes and the Good Neighbors Culture Academy.
Pyeongtaek has given the village of Anjeong-ri, just outside of the Humphreys pedestrian gate, special attention, budgeting 10 billion Korean Won or about $8.8 million to revitalize the commercial area. The aim is to bring in new shops, restaurants and businesses to make Anjeong-ri more appealing and viable.
As part of the Anjeong-ri revitalization Pyeongtaek has created an artist's square complete with an outdoor stage, a public square, studios, an exhibit hall and creative space. All of this is within a five to ten minute walk from Humphreys.
Pyeongtaek also sponsors the Pyeongtaek International Exchange Foundation, a civic group dedicated to bringing Korean arts, language and culture to U.S. Forces Korea personnel. PIEF offers Korean language classes, the Korean language café, an informal venue where foreigners and Koreans can learn each other's language, cooking classes, trips to cultural sites and more.
Not far from Camp Humphreys, Pyeongtaek is developing the Naeri Cultural Lakeside Park. The 24-acre park will have an outdoor stage, a picnic site and a waterside trail. It's scheduled to open in 2017.
For those interested in walking or bicycling, Pyeongtaek is building an extensive network of bike paths including a bicycle and pedestrian trail that follows the Anseong River and boundary of Camp Humphreys. When the trail is finished a bicyclist will be able to ride from Pyeongtaek City past Humpheys to the Pyeongtaek Ho Lake Resort and not use any major roads. The city did not provide a completion date for the project.
Getting to and from Humphreys will be considerably easier when National Road Number 43, to the west of the post, opens. The target date for the opening is December 2016. The new highway will connect Humpheys to Seoul and provide access to new gates along the southern boundary of the post.
The Pyeongtaek Ho Lake Crossing Road, projected to open in December 2018, will provide a direct route from Humphreys to Pyeongtaek Port and Pyeongtaek Lake Recreation Area. The recreation area currently has an arts hall, a lakeside park, walking trails, paddle boats, small restaurants and a wooden waterside deck. It's about a 30-minute drive from Camp Humphreys.
Future plans for Pyeongtaek Ho Lake Tourist Complex call for developing an approximately $1.4 billion, 678-acre site with a Ferris wheel, a botanical garden, water park, hotel, condominiums, a marine products center and more. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018 and targeted for completion in 2022.
High speed train service from Pyeongtaek will be available in December 2016 when the Super Rapid Train (akin to the KTX bullet train) begins operating out of Jije Station in Pyeongtaek. SRT officials said the trip from Jije Station to Suseo Station in Gangnam, Seoul will take about 20 minutes; the trip from Jije south to Busan will take about two hours.
When Jije Station opens, travelers will be able to buy tickets at the station, via the SRT website or the SRT smart phone application, according to SRT officials. The app will also show the train schedule and other information.
Pyeongtaek City will begin direct bus service between Jije Station and Camp Humphreys in December 2016.