CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Officials with Yeager Airport are thinking big when it comes to changes at the airport with funding available from the historic infrastructure package signed into law in November.
Yeager Airport Director Nick Keller told MetroNews the facility will receive $10 million over a five-year period from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to use on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved projects involving capitol improvements. Keller said the airport will receive its first round this federal fiscal year by Sept. 30, 2022.
Keller also said the airport is conducting a study into how a new terminal and control tower would look and be built on the property, as the airport plans to apply to a $5 billion competitive grant program for terminals and control towers as part of IIJA. The program will target projects that increase airport capacity and passenger access, and that improve energy efficiency.
Keller said once the study is done in March, the airport will apply for the new Airport Terminal Improvement program at the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve aging infrastructure. He said the $1 billion is given per year for five years to airports that are approved and 95% is funded by the federal government.
“We have the opportunity to get a brand new terminal building and a brand new control tower. We can get away from a 1950 facility that has been added on to a multitude of times. It’s something that meets our needs for the next 30 to 40 years,” he said.
Yeager Airport has the oldest FAA-operated control tower in the country. Keller said if approved in the grant program, eventually the entire terminal would be gone and a new facility would be built.
Keller said the age of the terminal along with the needs changing for different fleet mixes of aircraft will provide justification for the work to be done.
“Imagine coming in and having a new ticket lobby, a new security checkpoint, new everything. All the gates being on the same floor as your ticket lobby like when you go to other airports. Then on your ground floor when you fly in, you have your baggage claim, rental car companies,” Keller said.
Keller also envisions a dual-level roadway that would feature departures on upper levels and arrivals on the bottom floor.
Aviation programs included in IIJA are:
$15 billion for airport infrastructure grants, similar to traditional Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds. Airports would have the flexibility to address broader needs like terminal and gate construction, multi-modal projects, and low-emission ground service vehicles.
$5 billion to upgrade Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control facilities and equipment. $200 million is reserved for FAA-owned contract towers.