Williston Airport Taxiway & Relocation - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Williston Airport Taxiway & Relocation

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Taxiway repairs will soon be underway at the fastest growing airport in the state.

The state Aeronautics Commission says Williston once again led North Dakota's eight large airports in airline boarding growth through May.

Williston was up nearly 5,000 more passengers this year than in May 2012.

Jennifer Thorgramson tells us that increased traffic is only part of the problem for taxiways in Williston.

North Dakota winters take a toll on pavement.

...and the taxiway is no exception at Sloulin Field International Airport in Williston.

(William Brenny, Operations Officer) "The weather plays a big part with rain and pooling water that's extra weight added and wear and tear on the taxiway as well as snow removal."

(Steven Kjergaard, Sloulin Field Airport Manager) "It's a concern that we want to address before we have to go to the issue of, 'will it actually fail?'"

The FAA added taxiway Alpha to the Williston Airport capitol improvements plan.

It was also declared an emergency repair by the city so according to FAA regulations, it does not have to go to bid which allows construction to start in September and be complete before the summer's end.

(Steven Kjergaard, Sloulin Field Airport Manager) "Typically you have to bid it out for two months and we wouldn't be able to get started on it and that costs us time and we probably wouldn't be able to get it finished."

Repairs will cost about $175,000.

90 percent of that is covered by the airport's budget from the FAA.

(William Brenny, Operations Officer) "Williston traffic, Williston 9-9. Proceeding onto runway 1-1 from Alpha, Williston."

Numbers at Sloulin Field are around 39,000 for the first six months of 2013, eight times higher than five years ago.

But the continued increase in traffic is stalled until new airlines can be attracted to the area.

(Steven Kjergaard, Sloulin Field Airport Manager) "We're restricted by the size of aircraft we can bring in. We will be adding airlines as soon as we can when we either expand or relocate."

Future plans for a possible relocation late in 2016 are still on track.

Three sites are being considered.

The master plan and environmental statistics will be submitted to the FAA in early August.

Kjergaard says the FAA review could last until January and it will also include a review of expanding on the current location.

(Steven Kjergaard, Sloulin Field Airport Manager) "It still remains an option. Whether it's a good option of not, according to FAA rules."

Airline numbers in Williston are around 7500 emplanements every month, and with charter flights: add another thousand.

(Steven Kjergaard, Sloulin Field Airport Manager) "The terminal is taking a lot of abuse. It's not designed for it."

(William Brenny, Operations Officer) "Increased traffic, like any airport, it's going to be that much more to take care of, maintain. Williston traffic, Williston 9-9. Clear of all active runways."

The next three years are heavy with change at Sloulin Field, where rain or shine, or blowing snow, passengers are in no short supply.

In Williston, Jennifer Thorgramson, KX News.

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