State funds sought for airport terminal

February 01, 2002

State funds sought for airport terminal

By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport officials are looking to state lawmakers for help in securing funds for a new $1.2 million terminal and administration building at the airport.

Not only does the current terminal need to be replaced because of its deteriorating condition, but a new structure would better accommodate any increase in air traffic in the future, Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, said Thursday.

Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks last year, the airport located off U.S. 11 near Pikeside was placed on "reliever status," Unger said.

That means if an emergency occurs at one of the airports in the Washington or Baltimore areas, the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport could be used as a backup for plane traffic, Unger said.


The airport needs $640,000 for a new terminal, Unger said. The remaining money has already been committed by the federal government, Unger said.

To pave the way for the project, Unger and Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, introduced a resolution asking that the West Virginia Development Office look for funds.

The resolution passed the Senate Thursday and now goes to the House of Delegates for consideration, Unger said.

Rick Wachtel, a member of the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority, said he met with Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, Senate Finance Chairman Oshel Craigo and a representative from Gov. Bob Wise's office about funding.

"The bottom line is, they said they liked our proposal and said it was reasonable," Wachtel said Thursday.

Wachtel said he took West Virginia Development Office director David Satterfield on a tour of the airport in December, and he seemed supportive.

Discussion of a new terminal comes on the heels of comments this week by the state's top National Guard officer that West Virginia could soon receive $900 million in federal construction projects at two Guard facilities.

Adjutant General Allen E. Tackett told the House Veterans Affairs Committee that the Martinsburg air base is close to finalizing a $400 million project that would involve bringing another type of aircraft besides C-130 planes to the base.

On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., said he added $2 million to an appropriations bill last fall to begin the planning of an airport runway extension and other facility improvements to prepare the Guard there for any expanded role.

"However, as I have done in the past, I must caution that a change in mission for the Martinsburg Air Guard is not imminent. The expansion projects that West Virginia Adjutant General Allen Tackett referenced Wednesday all depend on the support of the U.S. National Guard Bureau and the Department of Defense. They are long-term projects and goals, and will not happen overnight," Byrd said in a statement.

The Herald-Mail Articles