CHARLESTON – Work could begin by the end of this year on a $4.1 million project to build a new road and utility corridor from Yeager Airport’s general aviation area to a 25-acre business park that will include a proposed Marshall University flight school and aviation education center.
“We hope to begin work on a new security fence for the road within a couple of months and build the road itself next spring,” said Terry Sayre, Yeager’s executive director, following a groundbreaking ceremony for the project on Monday.
The proposed business park would be located at runway grade between Charleston Jet Center’s general aviation terminal and the airport’s boundary with the 130th Airlift Wing’s property. The site includes sections of unused taxiway that once served the airport’s now-closed cross-wind runway.
In addition to providing vehicle access and utilities to the planned business park, the road will provide the 130th Airlift Wing with a second secure access route to and from the Air National Guard base.
“It’s the final piece to preserving the Guard’s operations here,” said Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, in remarks preceding the ceremonial groundbreaking. Carper noted that the U.S. Defense Department’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission targeted the 130th Airlift Wing for closure in 2005, citing lack of a dedicated, secure access road to the air base as a major deficiency.
State, federal and county resources were used in 2015 to complete a new bridge over the Elk River north of Mink Shoals to accommodate a new access road into Coonskin Park. Meanwhile, the park’s former access road was equipped with a security checkpoint and devoted exclusively to providing secure access to the National Guard complex.
In addition to providing access to the planned business park, the road “makes us BRACC proof,” Carper said, by eliminating the security deficiency.
Sayre called the new route to the planned business park “the road to opportunity,” since it gives the airport a business park to market, and then benefit from its development.
In addition to providing development space for Marshall’s planned aviation education center and flight school, the business park is being eyed as a possible site for an air cargo operation and a location for new corporate aviation hangars.
A planned Marshall learning center for aviation mechanics is tentatively planned for development at Huntington’s Tri-State Airport.
Carper praised the efforts of U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Rep. Alex Mooney and former representative Evan Jenkins, both R-W.Va., in securing federal funding for the project, and acknowledged Gov. Jim Justice for his willingness to contribute an additional $400,000 in state funds.
“Our job now is to make sure we continue to grow from here and do it right,” said Capito, who took part in the ceremony.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at [email protected], 304-348-5169 or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.
Source: The Associated Press