CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice announced today that he has requested $2 million from the West Virginia Infrastructure Jobs Development Council to help fund the construction of a new United States Customs building at Yeager Airport.
“We want to make the airport here in our capital an international gateway,” Gov. Justice said. “Our airport here needs to be a showcase; a showcase for not only just our state, but for the world.
“We needed $2 million, and we looked and looked,” Gov. Justice continued. “And, at the end of the day, we found the money and we’re going to build the customs building.”
Gov. Justice made the announcement, Friday afternoon, during an event at the airport celebrating the completion of a revitalized EMAS runway safety system; another project partially funded through money secured by the Governor.
“We’ve done bunches of upgrades to Yeager because the bottom line is that your airport in your community fuels everything,” Gov. Justice said. “The next thing that comes into play has to be your school systems. But your airport is your economic driver to everything.”
Specifically, the Governor has directed the Department of Commerce to request the funds from the IJDC; a body created by the West Virginia Legislature to manage and facilitate funding for infrastructure and other projects.
Leaders with the IJDC must review the request and give final approval before the funds can be officially transferred for use on the project.
A customs building would allow Yeager Airport to facilitate international travel among private or cargo aircrafts.
“I’m here for one thing and one thing only and that is to make things better for all of us, and to let the entire world see how good West Virginia truly is,” Gov. Justice said. “And there’s no doubt that a customs building would help us do just that.”
Meanwhile, Friday’s event celebrated another project the Governor helped push across the finish line.
A new EMAS – or Engineered Material Arresting System – was commissioned and opened for use on Runway 5, which was destroyed in the collapse of a portion of the airport’s hillside in May 2015.
An EMAS system is a set of materials, including geofoam blocks and more, designed to stop aircrafts in as safe a manner as possible in the event they overshoot the runway.
The Federal Aviation Administration required that a portion of the funding for the project come from the local level. Faced with that mandate, Gov. Justice found $3 million and finessed that sum into the state’s Commerce budget.
“It just was as simple as this to me: we had a really bad situation here and it needed to be fixed. Somebody had to act. Somebody had to say, ‘Do it.’” Gov. Justice said. “I was really proud to be able to be the guy to say, ‘Do it.’”
Gov. Justice wrapped up his remarks, Friday, by calling for a distinctive welcome sign to be installed at Yeager Airport for travelers to see as they leave the airport to explore West Virginia.
“I want a sign that welcomes people to West Virginia that blows everybody away,” Gov. Justice said. “Landscaped, lit, the whole bit, because as soon as they got off that airplane, when they head down that hill, not only do they want to see good paving, but we need a sign.”