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A budget covering $50.1 million in capital improvements at West Virginia International Yeager Airport during the 2023 fiscal year was approved on Wednesday by the Charleston airport’s governing board.

At that meeting, an economic impact study by West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research was released that analyzed the outcome of $620 million worth of construction activity planned at the Charleston airport from now through 2028. Should all those projects come to fruition within seven years, followed by three years of uninterrupted operation, they are projected to produce a total economic impact of $1.1 billion, according to the study.

The capital improvements budget is a planning document based on likely funding sources and the availability those funds, and is subject to revision.

The budget channels $12.4 million to the final phase of a runway rehabilitation project, involving the milling and repaving of the airport’s existing runway, and adding new runway lights and signs.

An additional $5.6 million was allocated for an environmental impact study now underway of the Charleston airport’s plan to lengthen the runway to 7,000 feet and add 1,000-foot safety zones at each end. That project would involve a large earth-moving project in neighboring Coonskin Park to construct a fill structure to accommodate the runway extension and one of the safety zones. The park’s swimming pool, clubhouse, golf course and tennis courts lie outside the proposed construction area.

The budget allocated $12.9 million to the first phase of construction for the relocation of Taxiway A to accommodate the passenger terminal’s relocation and to meet federal safety standards for buffer distances between runways and taxiways.

A plan to design and build a new 10,000-square-foot hangar and an associated 4,000-square-foot building containing office space, conference rooms, and military flight operations center was the recipient of a $4.5 million allocation.

Other allocations included additions to parking aprons at the north end of the airport’s general aviation area totaling $5.9 million, and the purchase of $1.8 million worth of new snow removal equipment.

The lion’s share of funding for projects listed in the capital improvements budget would come from federal sources. The airport would contribute $2.1 million in cash reserves, while $195,000 in state grants and $420,000 in Kanawha County funds were anticipated.

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, an economic impact study by West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research was released that analyzed the outcome of $620 million worth of construction activity planned at the Charleston airport from now through 2028.

Should all those projects come to fruition within seven years, followed by three years of uninterrupted operation, they are projected to produce a total economic impact of $1.1 billion, according to the study.

“We may not get every grant we want, when we want it,” said Nick Keller, the airport’s director. But the study, he said, “shows what a huge benefit this airport has on the state.”

Also on Wednesday, the airport board voted to seek authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration for a second phase of the environmental impact study for the planned runway extension/safety zone project.

Rick Steelhammer is a features reporter. He can be reached at 304-348-5169 or rsteelhammer@hdmediallc.com. Follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.

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