FAA ISSUES NOTICE OF INTENT FOR THE CRW AIRFIELD, SAFETY, AND TERMINAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
On September 30, 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published a Notice of Intentopens PDF file (NOI) in the Federal Register to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and to request scoping comments for the West Virginia International Yeager Airport (CRW) Airfield, Safety, and Terminal Improvement Project (Proposed Action), as proposed by the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority (CWVRAA or Airport Authority). The FAA is the lead federal agency for preparation of the EIS and will do so in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended (42 United States Code [U.S.C.] § 4321 et seq.) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Parts 1500-1508). The preparation of the EIS will follow FAA policies for implementing NEPA published in the most recent versions of the applicable agency orders, including FAA Order 1050.1F, Environmental Impacts: Policies and Proceduresopens PDF file , and FAA Order 5050.4B, NEPA Implementing Instructions for Airport Actions.opens PDF file The FAA has also invited federal, state, and local agencies to participate as cooperating and participating agencies. The complete list of cooperating and participating agencies for the EIS are identified under Agencies Involved.
To inform the public, notices were published in these 4 local newspapers:
- The Charleston Gazette-Mail
- The State Journal
- West Virginia Metro News
- The Herald Dispatch
PUBLIC SCOPING MEETINGS
In November 2022, the FAA held three public scoping meetings for the general public. Two in-person public scoping meetings were held on November 2nd and November 3rd, 2022, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Charleston Hotel located at 300 Court Street, Charleston, West Virginia. The FAA also hosted a virtual public workshop on November 7, 2022, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. via Zoom. Meeting materials have been uploaded to “Past Events.”
NOTE: The public comment period on the scoping phase of the EIS has been extended and will end at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on November 29, 2022.
The CWVRAA, as the owner and operator of CRW in Charleston, West Virginia, is proposing to construct various airfield, safety, and terminal improvements. To separately satisfy immediate (near-term) needs and long-term needs of the Airport, the proposed improvements would be developed in phases. In the near-term (Phase 1), the CWVRAA proposes to shift and extend Runway 5-23 to the northeast (Runway 23 end) to allow for a Runway Safety Area (RSA) that meets FAA standards on both ends of the runway and to meet existing and forecast future runway needs of 7,000 feet. The CWVRAA also seeks to construct a new terminal complex that would provide modern amenities allowing for a better passenger experience and address terminal area inefficiencies that include an aging and poorly configured terminal facility. Additionally, CWVRAA seeks to relocate taxiways adjacent to the terminal area that are not consistent with FAA design standards.
For long-term needs (Phase 2), the CWVRAA proposes a further shift and extension of Runway 5-23 to provide an 8,000-foot runway, relocation of the remaining portions of Taxiway A that do not meet FAA design standards, development of an additional gate at the terminal facility, and the potential relocation of the existing Airport Traffic Control Tower (ATCT). However, based on the long-term nature of these components, they are not yet considered “ripe for decision,” and will be analyzed at a programmatic level in the EIS.
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ONGOING/RECENTLY COMPLETED WORK ITEMS
To determine the feasibility of the Airport Authority’s proposal, the FAA conducted geotechnical borings within the project area to identify existing soil and bedrock conditions, slope stability concerns, suitability of soil for construction fill, and identify any issues that may impact future development. Nineteen boring locations were identified: 16 within Coonskin Park and 3 on-Airport. Drilling depths for the various borings ranged from 20 feet to 113 feet. A press release for the geotechnical borings was published on the Airport website.
The drilling of the geotechnical borings occurred from May to August 2022. In advance of the geotechnical borings, each drilling site was evaluated to avoid any potential above and below ground cultural resources, as well as to avoid or minimize impacts to wetlands and streams. FAA coordinatedopens PDF file with the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office and the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources to ensure that the geotechnical borings would not impact any potential sensitive resources in the park. Stormwater and erosion and sediment control efforts were employed in accordance with requirements of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
Soil samples taken from the borings are undergoing lab testing. The testing results will inform the development of EIS alternatives.
BAT MIST NET SURVEYS
From June to August 2022, the wildlife biologists on the project team conducted bat mist net surveys (see image above) to determine the presence of threatened and endangered bat species within the project area. Mist net surveys were conducted in accordance with the technical criteria outlined in US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) guidelines. Species captured during the surveys were the Eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis), the big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), and the tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus), none of which are federally- or state-listed as threatened or endangered species. Although the tricolored bat is not currently listed as a threatened or endangered species, it is a candidate species proposed for listing by USFWS.
During the initial bat mist net surveys, abandoned mine portals were discovered in Coonskin Park. Preliminary evaluation determined that one of the three open mine portals should undergo further survey and sampling. The additional surveys were conducted in September 2022.
WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES & STATE PRELIMINARY JURISDICTIONAL DETERMINATION
In December 2021, the project team conducted field investigations within Coonskin Park to identify streams and jurisdictional wetlands in advance of the geotechnical borings to aid in the development and screening of alternatives for the EIS. Based on the field investigation a preliminary jurisdictional determination report was submitted to the US Army Corps of Engineers and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection in March 2022. These agencies have the authority to determine the jurisdictional status of waters of the United States and waters of the State, respectively. Review of the Preliminary Jurisdictional Determination Request is ongoing.
PRE-SCOPING AGENCY AND STAKEHOLDER MEETINGS
Identified federal, state, and local agencies, Native American Tribes, elected officials, community leaders, Airport tenants, and key stakeholders were invited to participate in pre-scoping agency and stakeholder meetings that were held on August 16th and 17th, 2022, at the Marshall University Bill Noe Flight School, located at CRW. The agencies were offered the opportunity for a site visit and individual resource meetings were held to identify environmental issues, discuss the project schedule and permitting requirements, and review the project description. The community leaders and key stakeholder meetings were held to 1) provide information on the proposed project and the EIS process; 2) educate community leaders on how to better provide future input during scoping; 3) provide information for community leaders to relay and discuss with their members/constituents; and 4) identify key stakeholders in the process going forward.
In October 2022, a scoping meeting reminder postcard was mailed to approximately 3,200 residencies adjacent to the Airport.
The postcard was intended as a meeting notification only, for residences located within the preliminary visual resources analysis area for the EIS. No private property acquisitions would occur under the Proposed Project.