CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia National Guard (WVNG), with help from numerous partners, is taking steps to maintain the 130th Airlift Wing in Charleston for years to come.
“We have come up with a way to secure this facility, which was the final thing where BRAC said we were deficient and do what they said in order to keep and maintain the 1,100 jobs associated with having the 130th right here in Charleston,” said Governor Earl Ray Tomblin during a press conference Monday in Charleston.
The 2005 Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC), an agency of the United States federal government which aims to dispose of unnecessary United States Department of Defense (DoD) real estate, cited several deficiencies with the 130th Airlift Wing. The issues needed to be addressed otherwise the base could be closed by the federal government.
With help from the public, along with state and local officials, the WVNG announced Monday at the 130th Airlift Wing base that the deficiencies were being taken care of. The work started in Logan County.
“We now have developed short field take off and landing capabilities, an unimproved runway and a drop zone within 50 nautical miles of the airbase, three of the key deficiencies that were outlined in the BRAC Report,” said state Adjutant General James Hoyer.
In addition, the BRAC report pointed out a force protection issue at the National Guard base in Charleston. Coonskin Drive, which takes the public to Coonskin Park, runs right through the base leaving it unprotected.
Hoyer said a bridge is going to address that issue.
“We are going to build a bridge into Coonskin Park which will allow us to shut off Coonskin Drive at the airbase,” he said.
That bridge is scheduled to be built near the Mink Shoals exit off of Interstate 79. It will give the National Guard the ability to secure a perimeter around the entire base in Charleston.
Hoyer said the base in Charleston is a key part to the region and the state.
“There are a 1,100 men and women that serve at this airbase, over 350 full-time and it’s an $89 million economic impact to the state of West Virginia,” he said.
With the Logan County improvements and the future construction of the bridge in Charleston, the WVNG has put itself in a good position for the future.
“We now have positioned ourselves to be in the best place to be cost effective, timely and relevant and a national player in defending our nation and creating job opportunities here in West Virginia,” said Hoyer.
In order to make the improvements possible, the WVNG partnered with numerous agencies and businesses throughout the state including the Kanawha County Commission, Alpha Natural Resources, Yeager Airport and Logan County Airport just to name a few.
The West Virginia Department of Highways will next bid out plans for the construction of the bridge to Coonskin Park sometime this fall with actual construction to follow for roughly 18 months.