By: Katherine Grandstrand
After years of planning, a new airport in Bowman County is finally in sight.
At a Tuesday morning meeting at the Bowman County Courthouse, the Bowman County Airport Authority accepted a bid of just short of $3 million to start the dirt work to replace Bowman Municipal Airport.
“A lot of people thought that they probably weren’t going to see the day that the new airport was built,” said Brent Kline, owner/operator of Bottom Line Aviation LLC and Bowman Municipal Airport manager.
Bottom Line Aviation maintains and fuels planes, but does not own any aircraft.
Once the dirt work is completed, more bids will go out for the rest of the project, which is estimated to cost $10 million to $12 million, paid for mostly by the Federal Aviation Administration.
“There’s always those that aren’t too excited about spending all that money,” former airport manager Max Arnett said of community members who may be responsible for some of the bill.
Now that the Airport Authority has preliminarily accepted a bid, it will apply for a grant through the Federal Aviation Administration, Airport Authority Secretary/Treasurer Bob Morland said. Once the money is granted, the bid becomes official and the name of the company can be released.
The airport will move, he said. The new location is four miles east of Bowman, south of Highway 12, whereas Bowman Municipal, which hosts agribusiness, charter and hobby flights, sits west of Bowman.
If the grant is approved, the authority hopes to break ground at the end of September, Morland said.
The airport, which may undergo a name change to Bowman County Airport, is to be completed in 2014.
The facility opened to the public in 1944 and is in need of repair, Arnett said.
The new airport will be larger; big enough to allow small jets to utilize it, said Dave Anderson, project manager from the Bismarck Airport District Office of the FAA.
It won’t be sizable enough to allow commercial carriers, but will allow for more business travel, he said.
Commercial travel is a possibility if growth continues, Authority Chairman Rodney Schaas said.
“It will also be big enough to accommodate, maybe, in the future, some smaller commuter airline aircraft,” he said.
There are several studies and assessments that need to happen over several years before an airport can be considered, Anderson said. Bowman has gone through all of them and is now at the building stage.
“The airports are tending to grow just due to the nature of the traffic that’s coming,” he said. “A lot of our aircraft needs in North Dakota are increasing.”
The new airport is what drew Kline back to Bowman. He moved to Las Vegas 17 years ago and then to Phoenix after growing up on a farm north of Scranton. After a year or so of negotiations, he started as airport manager in May.
The Bowman Municipal Airport will remain open during construction, Morland said, and the old airport will be sold and will not function as an airport.