Tackett said the road and bridge would greatly improve access to Coonskin Park and improve the likelihood that the Defense Department will leave the 130th Airlift Wing off its list of prospective base closures.
"It's a win-win for the park and for the base," he said.
"Without Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper going to the Governor's Office and presenting a plan to bring forth this project, I'm not sure we'd be where we are today," Tackett said.
Also, earth-moving work on the $15 million obstruction removal project adjacent to North Gate/Coal Branch Heights area is scheduled to begin in mid-September, airport director Rick Atkinson told board members. The 60-month project involves removing 1.2 million cubic feet of rock and soil to slice 120 feet off a knoll that lies in the path of aircraft approaching and departing the Charleston airport.
The knoll is being removed to eliminate FAA climb-out restrictions on aircraft departing Yeager. Airliners are now required to climb at faster-than-normal rates immediately after takeoff to provide an extra margin of safety in the event of engine trouble or other problems encountered immediately after departing the runway.
To meet the FAA restriction, commercial aircraft on some of Yeager's longer nonstop flights, such as those to Houston or Dallas, sometimes have to bump passengers to reduce weight, particularly on unusually hot days.
Yeager marketing coordinator Anthony Gilmer told board members that load factors, or the percentage of filled seats, on aircraft departing Yeager "are very healthy," ranging from 63 percent on US Airways' flights to Washington-National to 94 percent on Spirit's flights to Myrtle Beach according to statistics for July.
Seats on United's Chicago flights averaged an 89 percent occupancy rate, while American's new service to Dallas was averaging load factors of 80 percent.
Also, drilling is complete at one of two natural gas wells being developed on Yeager's property, and liquid nitrogen fracking was scheduled to begin at the drill site this week. Drilling activity began at the second gas well Monday. Reserve Oil and Gas of Spencer is developing the wells, tapping into the Utica shale zone from drill sites created during Yeager's runway extension project.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.