Airport construction makes good progress

A towering mass of steel beams was the backdrop for Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and city leaders who gathered at Minot International Airport Tuesday to offer some good words on how well Minot’s new airport project is going.

The $82 million project includes a new, $40 million commercial passenger terminal, which is about 15 percent complete, according to Brian Goudge, operations manager for Graham, the contractor.

The prominent steel frame that has been erected is only the central third of the terminal, Goudge said. East and west wings will be built as well.

The 115,000-square-foot terminal will be the state’s second largest, behind Fargo’s terminal. It will have six gates, of which five will be operational once the terminal opens, and four jet bridges. Airport director Andrew Solsvig said about $8 million will be spent over the next two years to increase parking capacity to 1,500 spaces.

What makes the terminal project special is the aesthetics, Goudge said. The rolled beams, which curve out over the front of the building, are made by only two U.S. suppliers and came from Chicago.

More steel will be going in up in the next few weeks, followed by roofing and siding, Goudge said. The building will be enclosed by winter, when interior work will be the focus. Completion is expected in December 2015.

“It’s a big step for our community. These are exciting times in Minot,” said Mark Jantzer, Minot City Council president.

“When you look at the growth and development of Minot, we have to have a bigger airport,” Hoeven said. “This is not just about the airport terminal but also the runway, the apron facilities, the equipment, fire and rescue all of the facilities that go into a modern airport to meet the needs of the fastest growing state in the country.”

Hoeven recently had announced another $1.5 million for apron and taxiway construction, bringing the federal total for that part of the project to $10.2 million. The Federal Aviation Administration has provided $32 million over the past three years. North Dakota has provided another $25 million.

“The remaining $25 million is what we have to work on,” said Hoeven, who noted he plans to continue to seek federal funds for the project to reduce the local share.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., also have assisted with the project and had representatives at the news conference. Heitkamp had invited Federal Aviation Administration administrator Michael Huerta to North Dakota in April to see the aviation challenges in the western part of the state.

The city has no plans yet for the existing terminal once it is replaced. Solsvig said the building is in rough shape, needing updating to its electrical and other systems. The city could apply for federal funds to demolish the building if it acts within the first three years. It also could update and rent the building if a suitable use is found.