WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., has called on the U.S. Department of Transportation to allocate airport grants in a more timely manner so North Dakota airports can complete critical infrastructure projects during the state’s short construction season and better handle the increase in airplane passengers as the state’s population continues to grow.
Heitkamp stressed to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx that airport managers have told her they have been forced to barely begin or delay projects because funds were allocated too close to the beginning of winter. The airports, she also told Foxx, need upgrades to handle the drastic increase in business and meet safety standards.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, from 2012 to 2013 the number of boardings at Williston’s airport increased 136 percent and at Watford City’s airport, 150 percent. Before the state’s energy boom, North Dakota’s airports usually shared about $30 million in federal funding to handle need improvements. But since the boom, the state needs about $300 million in to handle in the increase in demand and need for upgrades.