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Ground Breaking Ceremony Held For New Coonskin Park Bridge

Reported: May. 8, 2014 8:50 AM EDT
Updated: May. 8, 2014 9:20 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Fallon Pierson) -- A major construction effort is began Thursday in Kanawha County, a project that secures the National Guard base.

It means a big change at Coonskin Park. A new bridge will be built, providing a new entrance to the park and connecting it with U.S. Route 119 in Mink Shoals.

It's a project that has been in the works since 2005.

When the National Guard's 130th wing was threatened to be closed, the fact that the base shares an entrance with the park was seen as a security issue.

The project comes with a price tag of $6 million, but Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said the guard contributes almost $90 million a year to the local economy and impacts nearby Yeager Airport.

"It's a huge economic benefit to have the guard here,” Tomblin said. “Plus, on the other hand, to have the fire protection that would cost Yeager Airport almost $2 million a year to have the kind of trained fire men and women they have here."

A potential 1,000 jobs could've been lost, but, with the bridge's construction, comes job security, and a message to the rest of the country.

"We said we've got a problem,” Maj. Gen. James Hoyer said. “We've got to pull together as West Virginians. We’re going to pull together and fix it.

That's what this country needs right now, is that level of leadership and motivation, so I'm proud to be a West Virginian."

The new entrance will be closer to the golf course and swimming pool area.

Work on the bridge is expected to be finished by October 2015.




CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A new bridge is going up at Coonskin Park in Charleston.

Officials plan to break ground for the $6.2 million project on Thursday. The bridge will provide a new entryway, connecting the park to U.S. Route 119 in Mink Shoals.

After the bridge's completion, another road leading past an Air National Guard base to the park will be closed to through traffic. That road closure was a stipulation in a federal improvement plan to make the base more secure and keep it, too, from being closed.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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