The Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority is planning for the next 20 years with a new master plan.
The planning process began last month and could finish in early 2018. The authority’s consultant, KLJ, began meeting with Grand Forks International Airport tenants and has gathered feedback in meetings over the past few weeks.
“The overall goal of a master plan is to give a 20-year vision or roadmap to the future,” said Tom Schauer, project manager with KLJ.
On top of meeting with airport management and tenants, the engineering firm will gather data on the airport’s facilities and forecast passenger enplanements, cargo volume and general aviation activities, he said.
A lot has changed since the last plan was completed in 2008, said Mary Jo Crystal, the interim executive director of the Airport Authority. A newsletter shows that total passengers increased 72 percent and total airport flight operations jumped 48 percent from 2008 to 2013.
That has implications for the airport’s infrastructure. Allegiant Air wasn’t flying out of Grand Forks when the new terminal was designed, and Delta Air Lines is now shifting to larger aircraft, Crystal said.
“So we have a lot of congestion on the apron when those aircraft are here, and it’s very difficult for them to maneuver,” she said.
In order to receive federal funds, potential infrastructure projects have to be included in the plan, Schauer said. With pavement aging, airport leaders have been eyeing a runway reconstruction project that may raise some logistical challenges.
“How do we reconstruct the runway and still keep air service and cargo service and general aviation operations intact so that we minimize the impact on the community?” Schauer said.
Schauer said they’ll meet with UND, which runs flight operations out of the airport, to “harmonize the vision of both entities.
“We see that as one of the big items to pin down as we go forward,” he added.
Crystal said the planning process will include public forums, but they haven’t been scheduled yet.