Earlier this week, former state National Guard head Allen Tackett suggested that the city of Charleston, Kanawha County and Yeager Airport could help pay off such a bond. Kanawha County commissioners seemed amenable to the idea. Charleston Mayor Danny Jones was more skeptical.
Hoyer said the base on Coonskin Drive contributes about $89 million to the local economy and employs more than 1,000 people.
Officials for the National Guard want to close Coonskin Drive to the public to control access in and out of the area. However, closing the road would shut off all access to Coonskin Park, which is located next door to the National Guard.
State highways officials held public hearings in 2010 to pick the best route for a new entrance to Coonskin Park. Their preferred option is building a new bridge across the Elk River in the Mink Shoals area to connect with the northern end of Coonskin Park.
Building the bridge won't save the 130th from another round of BRAC closures by itself, Hoyer said, "but the bridge helps us address the last physical infrastructure piece [cited by federal officials in closing the air base]."
State officials were counting on Byrd to secure federal funding for the project, but the senator died before the money could be guaranteed in the federal budget. Hoyer said the National Guard already has bought nine pieces of property across Coonskin Drive from the Army and Air Guard property, and one piece of property across the Elk River for the proposed bridge.
The original cost estimate for the new bridge was $15 million, but Hoyer said that price included property acquisition and a new gate at the bottom of Coonskin Drive. Hoyer said the new gate has been included in the federal budget.
"We believe the bridge itself is going to cost between $7 million and $9 million," Hoyer said.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.