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Feds OK another $20 million for new Williston airport as construction moves ahead

WILLISTON, N.D. -- Williston’s new airport will get another federal cash infusion of $20 million to support its construction.

The money is in addition to other federal investments on the project, including a little more than $27 million in Sept. 2015 for a land grant and $26 million to support construction in Sept. 2016.

Those grants came from the Federal Aviation Administration, but the new one came from the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to press releases from North Dakota’s Congressional delegates.

Williston City Administrator David Tuan was pleased to hear about the award for the Williston Basin International Airport, a $112 million project that he said is continuing to move ahead rapidly.

Dirt work has been continuing throughout the summer, and the terminal site’s preparation is done, he said, with the hope that foundation work can start in September.

The city awarded bids for the runway to Northern Improvement, contingent upon successful review. Meanwhile, the second half of the taxiway is being bid out by the city Friday — another $8 million worth of work that Tuan indicated will likely be awarded at the next available city commission meeting.

U.S. Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. have both been strong proponents for relocating Williston’s airport, and both issued press releases praising the latest grant award.

Hoeven, who attended the airport’s groundbreaking ceremony, authored a provision to help push funding for existing airports that are unable to grow due to physical constraints, such as Williston’s Sloulin International.

“Williston has experienced rapid growth, and Sloulin Field International can no longer properly accommodate this increased demand,” Hoeven said. “This has led to the need for a new airport, and I worked not only to secure federal funding for the project, but also to allow airports like Williston’s to relocate and expand as needed. The new airport will have a tremendous economic effect and will help support the long-term growth of western North Dakota and the Williston area. Today’s funding will help advance this important project.”

Heitkamp also attended the airport’s groundbreaking ceremony, as well as bringing in Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta to see the effects of the energy boom on the region.

“Western North Dakota’s growing economy has increased the need to update, improve, and expand transportation infrastructure that keeps folks and businesses on the move,” she said. “I have been working with the leaders on the ground in Williston for years, advocating for the federal government to invest in a new airport that we were successful in getting construction started for last year. This was a significant moment in the community, and this continued federal funding will make sure that completion of a new and modern airport becomes reality. The future will be exciting for this region, and I’ll continue to make sure that the needs of western North Dakota are met.”