The Williston Basin International Airport is now one step closer to completion.

On Tuesday afternoon, the final beam for the XWA terminal building was set into place, opening the door for the next phase of construction.

"It's a huge milestone for the community and for this construction project," Anthony Dudas, airport director said. "To have the last piece of steel erected, and now to start seeing the enclosing of the building, it's what the community sees as an airport. When you come to an airport, you think of the commercial terminal. So really this is the highest, most visible piece of construction that's occurring for our facility. It's truly a huge milestone to have that completed."

Dudas said that with the final 15-foot beam in place, crews can now begin work to enclose the terminal, which will allow for them to work on the project throughout the winter months. Dudas added that it is anticipated that the terminal will be partially enclosed by December, and fully enclosed by January.

"We'll start seeing glass being hung on the front of the building, we'll start seeing additional pre-cast concrete being placed around the exterior of the facility, metal panels and things of that nature to enclose the facility for winter construction." he said.

During Williston's Ag Appreciation Luncheon on Sept. 20, the XWA beam was brought to the Old Armory, where members of the community were invited to sign the beam. Attendees registered their names and city of residence prior to signing the beam, and once construction is fully completed on the terminal building, that register will be used to create a plaque that will list the names of those who signed. City Commissioner Brad Bekkedahl said it was an chance for residents to be a part of the project.

"The people of Williston have always been a part of this airport," he said. "We wanted to give them an opportunity to literally put their names on the project."

Despite recent inclement weather, construction continues at XWA, with crews working against the cold to pave the massive runway. So far, teams have paved 4,000 feet of the outer edges of the runway, with 2,000 feet paved in the center. Crews will continue working even as the forecast predicts lower temperatures.

"The biggest challenge we're having is that these early cool temperatures do affect the ability to pour concrete," Dudas said. "That'll be the main challenge of our contractors and our team. They're making sure to work within the bounds that are required, and trying to get as much work done when the weather does allow. We live in North Dakota, and the weather does play a huge part in our construction season."

Dudas said he hopes to have the terminal building substantially completed by summer to allow tenants to begin moving into the facility around July or August in preparation for the airport's October public opening.

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