Yeager Airport approves more funding for ongoing projects, including environmental study towards runway expansion

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More funding being approved for major ongoing improvement projects underway at the West Virginia International Yeager Airport.

A monthly meeting was held Wednesday where a couple of major Division of Multimodal Transportation Facilities grants were approved for the Airport Terminal Project (ATP), as well as Phase III of the ongoing Environmental Impact Study being conducted at the airport.

Dominque Ranieri

The first grant pertaining to the airport’s improvement and rehabilitation of its terminal building was for approximately $55, 556, and it will specifically help towards the installation of a new roof on the building, among other projects.

The second major grant, Phase III of the EIS was approved for $114,526. The environmental study is being conducted to send to the FAA for the proposed Runway Safety Area project that would expand Runway 5-23 to the northeast.

CRW President and CEO Dominque Ranieri said they are currently a year into the 2-year EIS process, and she said they anticipate there could be as many as four phases as part of the study.

The two Multimodal grants match the federal grants the airport has already received for the projects, Ranieri told MetroNews. She said they provide a 5% match to CRW’s 10% to help with the funding to get the projects off of the ground.

“We are so excited to work with the state and have these grant matching supports, because without them the airport wouldn’t be able to accept as many projects and grant funding from the FAA,” Ranieri said.

Ranieri said CRW does everything they can to keep costs to the airlines low, but that’s how they get the funds to operate the airport.

“If we were to raise our costs to the airlines in order to match these grants without any help, we would likely lose air service,” she said.

However, the EIS and the potential runway expansion project comes with some pushback, as a portion of it would cut into Coonskin Park. 

The local environmental protection group known as Save Coonskin Park has been raising opposition for the project, asserting it will cut and fill, via mountaintop removal, over 440 acres of wilderness in the park, as well as make an additional 375 acres nearly inaccessible to the public.

The group is planning to hold a rally at the park Sunday, October 1 to continue to oppose the airport’s project and to call on local, state, and federal officials to permanently protect Coonskin.

“It’s imperative that we come together to protect Coonskin Park from irreversible damage, “said Chad Cordell, a representative of the Save Coonskin Park movement. “Our goal is to continue building the momentum of the overwhelming community support for protecting Coonskin and to explore alternative solutions that ensure the preservation of this natural treasure.”

The main rally will take place at the park from 2-3 p.m. Sunday at the Gorman Shelter, one that’s in the heart of the potential project’s placement zone. Other activities, community art and live music will be held there from noon to 5 p.m. that day.