The Williston Basin International Airport has been awarded additional funds thanks to congressional leaders.
Sens. John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Transportation had awarded more than $20 million for airport construction in Williston and Dickinson. Williston will receive the majority of that funding, acquiring $10,758,110 towards the construction of XWA. The projected cost for the airport's construction is around $231 million, and with this latest funding, the federal government has now awarded $99.8 million of its $112 million share of the project.
"Airports throughout our state, especially in western North Dakota, support local communities and economies," Hoeven said. "Today's investment will further advance construction on Williston's new airport and will enable the Dickinson airport to accommodate larger aircraft."
The Williston Basin International Airport has received several grants in the last few months, with Hoeven and Heitkamp leading the charge in helping to secure funding for the XWA project. In July, the DOT provided a $13.1 million grant for the construction of XWA's firefighting and snow removal facility, and an additional grant for over $1 million was awarded to XWA as part of a $7.4 million grant given to North Dakota to improve airport infrastructure across the state.
“Investing in airports throughout North Dakota keeps our rural communities strong and supports economic development throughout the state.” Heitkamp said.
Based on the grants given, Williston appears to be leading the pack in regards to where airport funding, with both Hoeven and Heitkamp repeatedly expressing their commitment to the XWA project, which is one of only a few new airports that have been built in the United States in the last 20 years. Recently, both worked with other congressional leaders to insure that the new Williston airport would maintain its international designation, which will save XWA about $161,000 per year in operational costs.
Additionally, they were instrumental in including a provision in annual funding which would ensure that airports would be able to relocate if their current locations would not allow for expansion. That provision has made it possible to fast-track funding for projects such as XWA. Despite recent setbacks and construction delays, city and airport officials in Williston have stated their continued commitment to opening XWA on deadline, October 10, 2019.
"We still have every intention of meeting that October 2019 deadline," Airport Director Anthony Dudas told Hoeven during a visit to the XWA site in August, "We don't see any reason why that is in jeopardy in any way, shape or form at this point in time."
During that meeting Hoeven was given a tour of the project site, and shown several renderings of what XWA will look upon completion. He commented on how impressed he was with the progress that had been done.
"We're anxious to see it," he said, "If it looks like that, you're going to have something you can really be proud of. It's fantastic."
Hoeven added that as construction progresses, he and other congressional leaders would remain committed to securing funding for the project.