Minot prepares for new airport terminal

The real dirt-moving could be still a week or two away, but ceremonial shovels got things started at the site of a new commercial terminal at Minot International Airport Monday.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple, legislators, city and airport committee officials, members of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce and others were on hand for the ground-breaking that took place just east of the existing terminal, where the new terminal is expected to be completed in the fall of 2015.

Airport director Andrew Solsvig said the construction will not interfere with normal airport operations or parking availability. Once completed, the new terminal project will have about 1,500 parking spaces, compared to about 600 currently at the airport.

Solsvig said the terminal is designed to accommodate air traffic in Minot for at least the next 20 years. The new building will serve the four airlines that currently fly into Minot and will have capacity to add two more airlines. The 115,000-square-foot terminal will dwarf the existing 34,000-square-foot terminal, built in 1991.

“Nobody could have predicted the type of growth we have seen in the last three years. That’s the whole reason we are building the new building,” Solsvig said.

Minot’s airline boardings rose from 150,450 in 2011 to 224,421 in 2012. Although boardings in 2013 have backed off a bit, passenger numbers are at near record levels and are far and away from an old 1992 record of 97,148 passengers, set after the last terminal was built.

“This is a long overdue day,” Mayor Curt Zimbelman said at the ground-breaking. “But you wouldn’t have thought when we built what we now call the old terminal that we would be at a point where this project is as necessary as it is. Minot is certainly growing. This new airport terminal will be a gateway to that growth.

“In the end, all of the roads and infrastructure improvement going on right now will make a better Minot and make us ready to handle even more growth,” he added. “In the end, this terminal will represent a proud city that’s eager to take on challenges and welcome growth.”

Minot City Council member Jim Hatlelid, long-time chairman of the council’s Airport Committee, saw the construction of a former commercial terminal now used for general aviation by a fixed-base operator. He was Airport Committee chairman when the city replaced that terminal with its larger, existing terminal.

“I never would have imagined we needed a terminal as big and spectacular as the building we are starting today. What a wonderful thing for our community,” he said.

Dalrymple shared similar sentiments.

“Who would have thought that Minot, a few years ago, would need a large, beautiful new terminal like this something that is going to be a source of pride and is going to change the whole image and the way people view this community and this region of the state,” Dalrymple said. “You are going to have a fantastic terminal here, and we are really proud, as a state, to play a major role in making this happen.”

The state provided $18.5 million in energy impact dollars to the $40.3 million project. The city is providing $13.7 million and the Federal Aviation Administration $8.1 million. The state also contributed $3 million for additional grounds work to support the terminal project. The total improvement package, including the terminal, is about $70 million.

“It’s something that we do because this is an energy impact. We are not giving money to eastern airports but this is something that’s brought on by circumstances that are not under the control of the people in Minot, and the state really wants to help,” Dalrymple said. “It’s about growth, and you have growth here like people can’t believe. We need to meet the challenges of growth, and I think you are really doing that, as usual, in Minot.”

Members of the state’s congressional delegation were scheduled to attend the ground-breaking but were unable due to commitments in Washington, D.C. Staff members presented their prepared remarks instead.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., commended the city’s leadership for the progress evidenced by the terminal construction. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., cited the airport as a critical part of the transportation infrastructure and mentioned the work done in Washington to secure FAA support. Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., noted the importance of the airport to northwestern North Dakota in congratulating the city on the ground-breaking for a new terminal and the ribbon-cutting on an airport equipment building, which also took place Monday.

Graham Construction Services of Eagan, Minn., is general contractor for the new terminal. Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson, Coover Clark and BCER Engineering were involved in the planning and design.