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1st dirt moves on Bowman's new airport

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news Dickinson, 58602

Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

BOWMAN -- A new Bowman County airport complex might be a few years away from being complete, but it could serve as a pressure release valve for other Oil Patch airports.

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The construction of the airport took a significant step Tuesday as the first dirt was moved at the future site, about four miles east of Bowman.

After years of planning, the first ground was broken during a ceremony that included civic, county and state aviation leaders. Expected to cost in the neighborhood of $12 million by its completion, the airport will replace the aging Bowman Municipal Airport.

Paid for mostly by the Federal Aviation Administration, the complex is expected to be finished sometime in 2015, said Bottom Line Aviation LLC and current airport manager Brent Kline.

"I think this new facility could definitely take a load off some of the other airports in the area that are overloaded from all the Oil Patch activity," Kline said. "A lot remains to be seen, but there is a lot of equipment that goes up Highway 85. There will be opportunities here for more logistical pathways to the Oil Patch."

Although the new airport will not feature commercial air travel, the proper amenities will be there for possible expansion into commercial travel in the future. The runway will be 5,700 feet -- about a 20 percent increase from the current airport's runway -- and will feature more hangers and a larger, county-owned facility for housing aircraft, Kline said.

"I think the new airport could really be a hub for southwestern North Dakota," Kline said. "We will be able to accommodate bigger planes and it will have a better navigation system. People are excited about this -- there was a strong backing in the community."

With the FAA footing most of the bill, the price was right for Bowman County.

"Ninety percent of the project is being funded by the FAA, with five percent coming from the state and five percent from local government," said Bowman County Commission Chair Lynn Brackel.

The dirt-moving and grading phase of the project will be handled by Foothills Contracting Inc. of Webster, S.D. and is slated to be finished by July of next year, said Gary Brennan of Brosz Engineering, the firm designing the complex.

The land housing Bowman Municipal Airport, which first opened to the public in 1944, will eventually be sold off.

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