The transport ministry has decided to construct pedestrian bridges near railway crossings in western Tokyo that at times are only open one minute during an entire hour, it was learned Monday.

The move is in response to orders from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

The crossings are on the JR Chuo Line, between Mitaka and Kokubunji stations. Due to construction work late last month, temporary tracks have been laid beside the existing line so its tracks can be elevated.

This has lengthened the time it takes to cross from one side to the other.

Earlier this month, an elderly man stumbled and broke his leg at a crossing as he tried to get to the other side before the bar came down.

There have been other close calls in which pedestrians and cars were stuck inside the crossing as the warning lights flashed.

Last week, Koizumi ordered the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry to correct the situation.

Ministry officials said they have determined that the crossings are a serious problem and that they will inspect the 13 crossings between the two stations and construct temporary overpasses for pedestrians and bicyclists at the crossings where the need is greatest. The move may be expanded to other crossings if necessary, they said.

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