"The bridge is going to cost $9 million, but the security of West Virginia is well worth it," Jones said.
Yeager Airport Director Rick Atkinson also believes the Air National Guard base is an important part of the state's economy.
"The Air National Guard is a major employer for not only Charleston and Kanawha County, but for central and southern West Virginia too," he said.
Atkinson said he is not sure how the airport authority would come up with the $100,000 annually to fund the project.
"This is something we're going to have to discuss at our next meeting," he said.
The airport authority will meet on Wednesday at noon.
One of the problems found when the Base Realignment and Closure Commission report was issued about eight years ago was that members of the public drove by the base entrance on their way to Coonskin Park.
The problem was deemed a security risk and state and federal representatives, including Byrd, proposed building a bridge from the interstate near Mink Shoals across the Elk River, to Coonskin Park.
The park entrance near the airbase and National Guard Armory would then be closed to the general public.
However, federal officials reversed their decision to close the base, and the bridge project fell to the wayside.
If the 130th Airlift Wing's Charleston base is put on the list to be examined for closure, it will be difficult to save the facility, with or without the bridge, he said.
"It will be very difficult to save that base without Senator Byrd," Tackett said.
Even with the work of Byrd, Tackett and local officials, the base was nearly closed, he said.
"That was probably one of the toughest fights I've ever had," Tackett said of the moves to save the Charleston base. "If it hadn't been for Byrd, we would have lost that base."
The Air National Guard base is an economic engine for the entire county, pumping about $89 million into the local economy, Tackett said.
About 350 full time employees work there, as do around 700 part time guard members, he said.
"As a state, it's imperative that we build that bridge and save that base," Tackett said.
Tackett went on to say that it would be a "shame" to see $89 million in local economic impact disappear because of the lack of a $9 million bridge.
Yeager Airport also benefits from having the 130th Airlift Wing located at the facility, Tackett said. For example, the Air National Guard provides firefighting capabilities to the airport, he said.
The airport authority would likely spend about $9 million in two years to cover the cost of the services provided by the Air National Guard.Contact writer Paul Fallon at paul.fal...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817. Follow him at www.twitter.com/PaulBFallon.