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FAA grants Yeager Airport $13.5M for safety zone repairs

File photo
An aerial photo shows the extent of the landslide beneath Yeager Airport’s main runway overrun area on July 15, 2015.

Charleston’s Yeager Airport will receive a $13.5 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to rebuild the safety overrun area that collapsed in a landslide on March 13, 2015, and replace an engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) atop the overrun that was destroyed in the slide.

The announcement was made Wednesday by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va.

The amount nearly matches a request for $14 million made by Yeager’s governing board in April to repair the safety overrun area and replace the EMAS bed. Last month, airport officials were hoping to receive word from the FAA that they would be allocated $8 million to order EMAS materials and begin work on the planned rebuilding project.

The $13.5 million will pay for the design, environmental review, and rebuilding much of the collapsed slope using a retaining wall based on a terrace at the south end of the runway. It also will pay to buy and install a new EMAS bed.

By replacing the safety overrun area, Yeager will be able to restore 500 feet of its runway now being used for overrun purposes to operational use, increasing available takeoff and landing distances, and allowing the instrument landing system on the south end of the runway to be reactivated.

In January 2010, Yeager’s EMAS bed brought to a safe stop a regional jet that overran the runway on an aborted takeoff attempt.

“I would like to thank our congressional delegation and the FAA for their continued efforts to prioritize funding for this vital safety project,” said Terry Sayre, director of the Charleston airport.

Ed Hill, chairman of Yeager Airport’s governing board, said an emergency board meeting will be held Monday to accept the grant.

“Yeager Airport serves an important role in our state, helping our businesses export their products, tourists travel to our state, and introducing who we are to the world,” said Manchin, who facilitated meetings between FAA and Yeager officials to discuss the urgency of repairing the state’s most heavily used airport.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.

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