By John Hageman, The Dickinson Press
GRAND FORKS — Five airports across the state will receive more than $17 million in federal grants, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., announced Thursday.
The Grand Forks International Airport will receive more than $4.1 million to redesign and reconstruct part of its taxiway. The Devils Lake Regional Airport will receive more than $1.2 million primarily to purchase a new firetruck.
Also getting grants are Minot International Airport, the Bowman County Airport Authority and Jamestown Regional Airport, Heitkamp announced in a news release. Minot alone will get almost $9 million for constructing a new taxiway.
The federal dollars will be matched by state and local dollars, airport officials said, but the feds are paying for 90 percent of the projects.
“North Dakota’s aviation industry is growing by the day, and I’m confident we’ll continue to be leaders for years to come,” Heitkamp said in the release. “Across the state, and particularly in energy-impacted regions, it’s important that we continue to make critical investments in our infrastructure so increased demand can be met and pilots and air passengers remain safe.”
In Grand Forks, officials have been eyeing a change to a five-way intersection on its taxiway for a few years. Patrick Dame, executive director of the airport, said the Federal Aviation Administration has safety concerns about the area, which is near its old terminal.
“The FAA does not want five-way intersections,” Dame said. “They view them as a safety issue.”
Dame said the project will likely get started in spring of 2015, and will be fast-tracked to be finished before the end of the year.
“There are portions of it that will run 24 hours a day, because it is the main intersection for the airport,” he said. “So we plan to fast-track the project as quickly as we can.”
The North Dakota Aeronautics Commission announced last week that the Grand Forks airport received a $189,431 grant for the taxiway project.
Meanwhile in Devils Lake, the airport will use most of its federal grant to purchase a new firetruck now that it has new air service to Denver. The flights, which are provided by SkyWest through an affiliation with United Express and are scheduled to start in June, mean a larger jet will be flying out of Devils Lake, airport manager John Nord said.
“The FAA would like us to have a larger fire rescue vehicle here at the airport,” Nord said, adding that it will likely have three times the water capacity that the current vehicle has.
Nord said he wasn’t sure when they’ll actually purchase the vehicle, but requests for bids will likely go out within the next 30 days.
U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., noted that boardings in North Dakota have nearly doubled in the past decade.
“These funds will help our airports deal with a wide range of capacity and safety needs which accompany increasing traffic,” Cramer said in a news release.