With two recent federal grants, the Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport is one step closer in rebuilding its main runway and will soon open its new temporary runway later this year.

During the Airport Authority Commission meeting Tuesday, the board discussed the importance of the Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport accepting two grants — one over $10 million and one for $5.8 million — from the Federal Aviation Administration this week. Those funds will be utilized for 2021’s next construction phase of the rebuilding of the main runway.

With the funds in place, Airport Manager Kelly Braun said that he wants to see the entire facility rebuilt and “put back to brand new.”

“It’s super important to have a facility that’s going to last and meet the needs, not just today, but into the future. And this particular project has a 30 to 40-year shelf life, which is a long time to reap the benefits of this project,” he remarked.

Being a part of this project is especially meaningful to Braun and all the people involved.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

“... I think short-term, we’re excited to see the first aircraft land on our temporary runway; it’s quite a feat for everyone that’s been involved: the general contractor, Martin Construction, and our engineer consulting firm, KLJ, and numerous local contractors and contractors throughout the state have done a really great job,” Braun said. “So we’re all super excited to see that first airplane land and it’s really a testament for the ability for us to get this project done on time and on budget, and the importance that it brings to the community.”

On Sept. 22, the airport will kick off its test flight to make sure the new temporary runway is “up to standards” and “all the navades are in place and functioning as they’re designed,” Braun said. Once the test flight is completed, airport certification inspectors will inspect the airport and the runway. Currently, construction is wrapping up phase three and four of its temporary runway, which is scheduled to open Nov. 5 after the airport inspectors give the go-ahead.

The FAA is allotted a portion of revenue each year within the federal budget and airport projects across the nation compete to receive those grants “based on a priority scale,” Braun said, explaining, there is a list of projects that are put on the front lines for those grants — otherwise known as discretionary money. The FAA may decide how that money is spent and where it can go based on its ranking of precedent airport projects. Entitlement money is a small amount of funds that airports are eligible to receive each year in the amount of $1 million due to the amount of passengers using its facilities.

The supplemental grant of $5.8 million is also important, Braun said, because federal projects are usually funded at 90% and the remaining percentage comes from the state and airport sponsors. This grant is awarded through the Cares Act.

Following the opening of the new temporary runway, the airport project has two remaining phases for 2021 and 2022, which entails the rebuilding of the main runway.

The rebuilding of the main runway began when the airport board established the “Airport Master Plan” quite a few years ago, Braun continued. After the board identified the project that they wanted to focus on, an environmental assessment was conducted and physical construction began spring 2019.

“We look at what’s coming in and out of our airport right now. What we discovered was that the runway we have currently is deficient in a number of different areas. The pavement strength, width, length and thickness of our current runway, does it meet the aircraft mix that we have coming in and out of our airport on a daily basis right now?” Braun explained, adding, “So it’s super important to make sure that we have a facility that can accommodate the stuff that’s going on right now and we can do it while meeting every safety standard that is beset. We want to make sure our runway, our facility is as safe as it can be.”

The airport generates a “significant amount of economic impact to Dickinson and southwest North Dakota,” and is vital for freight, UPS, FedEx and medical facilities and personnel. With the growing population of Dickinson, a safe and reliable airport is necessary, Braun added.

“It’s been in the works for a very, very long time and it’s just now, we’re seeing the fruits of all that labor and the legwork we had to put in to justify the project and make sure that it was going to be a long-serving project,” he said. “And then we moved forward from there.”

With the help of the local state legislature for allocating funds to the Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport for this project and being able to secure those grants from the FAA was crucial in making this project a reality, he said.