Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Nearly one year later, cleanup for Yeager Airport (KCRW) landslide continues

CHARLESTON, WV - It's been almost a year since the massive landslide at Yeager Airport. But it wasn't something most travelers on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 were worried about.

"No not really, didn't concern me," said Steve White, who was waiting to be picked up at Yeager Airport. 

"No didn't think much about it, airport's pretty much known for a tight airport so I figured they're ready when they get here," said Terry White, Steve's wife. 

But it is an issue the airport has been dealing with every day since it happened. 200 thousand cubic yards of land and material remain to be cleaned up. Due to the season and challenges with the weather, that work is on hold until the Spring. 

"We're not going to start until mid April or May then you're going to be mid summer before you get it all finished I would say unfortunately," said Terry Sayre, Yeager Airport Director who estimates there is about two months of cleanup work left. 

He said coordinating with other agencies and financial challenges have impacted the process. There are several ongoing lawsuits that in part will determine how all of this is paid for. 

Mike Plante, Public Information Officer for the airport says initially when the slide first happened here at Yeager a fair number of passengers were worried about it but that since has not been the case. 

"Not really, we had no flight cancellations because of this incident, no delays because of this incident," said Plante. "The airport has been operational, fully operational throughout all of this."

But the airport is still looking forward to when the area past the runway known as the Engineered Materials Arrestor System (EMAS)  is back because of how important it can be. 

"Having that extra margin can be the difference between life and death sometimes," said Plante. 

A final plan for a rebuild has not yet been chosen. It could cost tens of millions of dollars and its estimated construction could take between a year and half and two from start to finish. 

Although some slides have been happening in the area, Plante said that is not a concern at Yeager. 

"It seems to have stabilized, we’ve had no more movement for some time so we still need to get out of there but we think its stable at this point," he said. 

A similar situation with a landslide at an extended runway area happened in Branson, Missouri and it took that airport about two years to take care of everything. 

Original article can be found here:

As the one-year anniversary of the collapse of Yeager Airport’s safety overrun area approaches, officials at the Charleston airport are pursuing a variety of financing possibilities to rebuild the collapsed slope and replace the engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) the hillside supported.

“Our focus continues to be the rebuilding of the slope failure area,” Ed Hill, chairman of the airport’s board of directors, said during a board meeting on Wednesday.

“Ideally, we’ll be able to start rebuilding in the spring,” Hill said. “We’re continuing to look at alternative means of funding to get things started” while waiting for lawsuits and insurance claims to be settled, he said.

Recent legal action that moved Yeager’s lawsuit against Triad Engineering and other firms involved in the design and construction of the safety overrun area from U.S. District Court back to Kanawha Circuit Court, where a hearing or status conference is expected to take place next month, “should speed things along,” Hill said.

But the upcoming construction season will likely be well underway, if not completed, before lawsuits or insurance claims produce the $20 million needed restore the collapsed slope to its elevation before the landslide on March 12 of last year. An additional $8 million will be needed to replace the EMAS system atop the restored overrun area, but the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to pick up 90 percent of that tab.

Yeager officials have approached Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office with a request for a loan large enough to get design and preliminary construction underway in advance of insurance settlements and judgments from legal action. They have also appealed the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s initial denial of a weather-related disaster claim that would cover reconstruction costs.

“We’ve also been in contact with Sen. [Joe] Manchin,” Hill said, to see what the senator can do in reaching out to the FAA and FEMA to jump-start the rebuilding process.

Meanwhile, weather conditions have brought slide removal work at the safety overrun area to a halt, with more than 200,000 cubic feet of material still to be removed, after 300,000 cubic yards of slide debris and unstable slope were removed last summer and fall.

“Before we can do any rebuilding, we need to get the collapsed area taken care of,” said Terry Sayre, the airport’s executive director. “We need to wait for the weather to break” before that project resumes, Sayre said.

Also at Wednesday’s board meeting, Yeager spokesman Mike Plante said that the Charleston airport has begun a partnership with National Travel and its CEO, Ted Lawson, to promote Yeager fares and destinations in Gazette-Mail ads and weekly features, as well as with local television spots.

Airport officials are discussing the possible addition of a new Florida route with two unidentified carriers, according to the marketing report reviewed at Wednesday’s meeting. Yeager has $700,000 remaining from a Small Communities Air Service Grant it received in 2013 to promote a new route and provide incentives to the airline that operates it. If no agreement for opening a new Florida route is made with a carrier by Jan. 1, 2017, the $700,000 must be returned to the grant program.

According to a review of video from airport security cameras by Yeager Assistant Director Nick Keller, the pilot of a Cessna 421 twin-engine turboprop that got stuck along the berm of Taxiway A on Feb. 3 had been taxiing at a high rate of speed, rolled past a runway hold line without authorization, and then made a right turn, instead of a correct left turn, in attempting to approach the takeoff holding position, becoming mired in wet sod off the taxiway berm.

The aircraft was undamaged and its passengers uninjured in incident, which remains under investigation by the FAA.

- Original article can be found here:

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