The Williston Basin International Airport’s opening date looms ever closer, yet despite continued issues with cement supplies officials still say the facility will be operational on schedule.
As reported by the Williston Herald earlier this month, Williston city officials said the airport had received notice that 3,000 tons of cement would be delivered to the airport weekly. Due to damage from flooding in the area, however, the airport’s cement supplier has been struggling to meet demands, not just for the projects in Williston, but across the Midwest. The shortage has affected work out at the site, most notably on the runway and taxiway.
Airport Director Anthony Dudas referred to the runway project as a “critical timeline piece” to complete, as the Federal Aviation Administration must run flight checks on the runway before it can be signed off on.
In a release on Friday, July 19, airport management says an agreement has been made to receive the 3,000 tons of cement per week to complete the runway and taxiway projects. In addition, the release states that continued efforts are being made by city and state leadership to secure shipments in addition to the weekly amounts delivered. While the delay in cement supply caused delays in runway completion, Assistant Airport Director Ryan O’Rear said he is still confident that the airport will meet its Oct. 10 deadline.
“Even though there has been that delay, we are still tracking on schedule and all of our other projects are tracking on schedule,” he said. “So, we should meet that Oct. 10 opening date. The cement is still a challenge, but overall I think we are in good shape.”
When the airport received its first cement shipment, only 6 inches of the runway cement had been poured. An additional 13 inches was still needed to complete the project. According to the release, since the weekly shipments began, contractors have made “serious progress” and are now only two lanes away from having the runway complete. The airport faces a mid-August deadline to complete the runway for the FAA to complete its flight checks.
In an effort to further assist the paving crews, Governor Doug Bergum signed an executive order on Tuesday, July 16, granting a waiver of hours of service requirements for drivers of commercial vehicles transporting cement to the site. However, Bergum rescinded the order on Thursday, July 18, stating on his website that guidance from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had raised questions about the interpretation of United States Department of Transportation regulations cited within the order. Despite the order being rescinded, Dudas said it will not affect the work being done at the airport.
“It’s not going to have any negative impact on what’s currently progressing,” Dudas told the Williston Herald. “Without having that waiver it does eliminate some flexibility for our trade partners to deliver cement, however we’re still continuing to work with those trade partners to get timely cement deliveries to the project. They are still able to accommodate about 3,000 tons per week at this point in time, and we’re working with them to elevate that to a higher amount.”