Nearly one year later, cleanup for Yeager landslide continues

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It’s been almost a year since the massive landslide at Yeager Airport. But it wasn’t something most travelers on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 were worried about. 

“No not really, didn’t concern me,” said Steve White, who was waiting to be picked up at Yeager Airport. 

“No didn’t think much about it, airport’s pretty much known for a tight airport so I figured they’re ready when they get here,” said Terry White, Steve’s wife. 

But it is an issue the airport has been dealing with every day since it happened. 200 thousand cubic yards of land and material remain to be cleaned up. Due to the season and challenges with the weather, that work is on hold until the Spring. 

“We’re not going to start until mid April or May then you’re going to be mid summer before you get it all finished I would say unfortunately,” said Terry Sayre, Yeager Airport Director who estimates there is about two months of cleanup work left. 

He said coordinating with other agencies and financial challenges have impacted the process. There are several ongoing lawsuits that in part will determine how all of this is paid for. 

Mike Plante, Public Information Officer for the airport says initially when the slide first happened here at Yeager a fair number of passengers were worried about it but that since has not been the case. 

“Not really, we had no flight cancellations because of this incident, no delays because of this incident,” said Plante. “The airport has been operational, fully operational throughout all of this.”

But the airport is still looking forward to when the area past the runway known as the Engineered Materials Arrestor System (EMAS)  is back because of how important it can be. 

“Having that extra margin can be the difference between life and death sometimes,” said Plante. 

A final plan for a rebuild has not yet been chosen. It could cost tens of millions of dollars and its estimated construction could take between a year and half and two from start to finish. 

Although some slides have been happening in the area, Plante said that is not a concern at Yeager. 

“It seems to have stabilized, we’ve had no more movement for some time so we still need to get out of there but we think its stable at this point,” he said. 

A similar situation with a landslide at an extended runway area happened in Branson, Missouri and it took that airport about two years to take care of everything. 

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