A bill to provide $20 million from oil revenue for airport improvements in North Dakota as part of a $100 million infrastructure appropriation has been signed into law by Gov. Doug Burgum.
AOPA Great Lakes Regional Manager Kyle Lewis had urged support for the measure in the legislature and from the general aviation community, pointing out that with current support "stretched thin for maintaining the state’s 89 public-use airports, the large-scale influx of capital would be the first of its kind, driven by surging demand for aviation services."
“Pavement maintenance, navaids, hangars, and other airfield-related funding requests through 2024 are upwards of $840 million. The infrastructure bill is a welcome breath of fresh air for the state’s aviation system,” Lewis said, adding that North Dakota "is being proactive in finding solutions to its large-scale funding needs, and funding those needs based on priorities.”
Action on the measure came with the state’s aviation system already in the spotlight: A new commercial airport, the Williston Basin International Airport, is scheduled to open in October in the state’s oil-producing district, and as a governor’s proclamation recognized March as Aviation Month.
The new airport would act as an operational replacement for Sloulin Field, which as passenger use grows is saddled with challenges including the condition of its pavement, excessive runway slope for aircraft expected to use the facility, and other out-of-standard deficiencies that could preclude federal funding of repairs.
“North Dakota fully understands the benefits of smart and efficient infrastructure as well as the economic impact and heightened standard of living that our airports provide to their communities. We are excited to see that our state leaders have worked out a solution to establish a new airport infrastructure fund with the intent that it will allow the state to provide consistent, long-term airport infrastructure grant funding," said Kyle Wanner, director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission. "This signed legislation will greatly help the Aeronautics Commission in our work with the federal government and our local communities to plan, prioritize, and complete projects in a timely manner. The North Dakota airport system has seen unprecedented growth over the last 10 years and the state wants to continue to maintain a leadership role in providing solutions to both maintain and to grow its critical airport infrastructure. This is truly an exciting and legacy impacting moment for North Dakota aviation.”