By Michael Hricik Dickinson Press May 15, 2014
BOWMAN — Construction on Bowman County’s new $14 million airport is continuing on schedule — projected for completion in spring 2015 — while county officials mull the purchase of the current airport’s property.
“Hopefully Mother Nature cooperates right now, because we’re doing well,” said Rodney Schaaf, a pilot and president of the Bowman County Airport Authority.
Crews are persisting with dirt work and building an on-site, portable cement plant, Schaaf said. Electrical contractors are also developing a runway lighting system.
No signs designate the new airports yet, which is about four miles east of Bowman south of Highway 12. But, from the side of the road, the runway’s shape is unmistakable.
The airport will feature a 5,700-foot runway, according to the airport authority, longer than the current runway, which has been scaled back to accommodate road construction. A longer runway will enable more types of aircraft to land, allowing bigger planes as North Dakota air traffic swells.
The airport authority will field bids from contractors next week to start work on an airport terminal and snow removal equipment building. Construction on hangars to house planes will begin later this summer, Airport Authority board member Bob Morland said.
Bowman County officials are in the early stages of planning a feasibility study to determine uses for the current airport’s land, said Teran Doerr, executive director of the Bowman County Development Corporation. She cited industrial parks in Belle Fourche, S.D., and Jamestown as inspirations for moving forward.
“Using the property to attract new businesses would be exciting for the county,” she said.
The Federal Aviation Authority has valued about 161 acres of airport land at $641,000. The county has not yet identified a funding source to purchase the land, Doerr said.
The airport authority has received several multi-million dollar state and federal grants to aid with construction, and it got a little more help this week.
On Tuesday, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., announced a $2.15 million federal grant for Bowman’s airport authority.
The federal grant will help provide essential medical access, meet FAA design standards, install utilities and wildlife airport perimeter fencing, and construct a snow removal equipment storage building, according to the release.
“North Dakota’s growing prosperity places demand on all of our airports,” Rep. Kevin Cramer said in a release. “Boardings have nearly doubled over the last decade, and airline departures have grown 50 percent. These funds will help our airports deal with a wide range of capacity and safety needs which accompany increasing traffic.”