City commissioners have selected JE Dunn to oversee the construction of the terminal building for Williston’s new airport. 

The board voted unanimously on Tuesday to begin working toward an agreement with the Kansas-based company that has an office in Williston. 

“At this point we have to enter into negotiations with them to secure a contract,” city administrator David Tuan told commissioners. 

A finalized contract, along with a firm cost estimate for the building, will likely be drafted in coming weeks, officials said. 

JE Dunn beat out Q&D Construction, of Nevada, which was the only other company to compete for the construction manager at risk contract to oversee the completion of the terminal from beginning to end. 

Both companies met for interviews with a board made up of city officials and design and construction experts, who graded each one’s ideas on work schedules, cost and other qualifications. 

The terminal building, which is already designed, is expected to cost between $40 and $45 million. City officials have said they hope to use federal money to pay for the majority of the bill. 

JE Dunn was the recipient of the first construction manager at risk-style contract on the airport relocation for the completion of a $6 to $7 million building to house snow removal and fire-fighting equipment. 

Although work was expected to begin at the site of the future Williston Basin International Airport last fall, the $250 million project has fallen slightly behind due to hold-ups with paperwork and a particularly severe winter. 

“We’ll get construction rolling later this summer,” Tuan said. Bids have already been awarded to reroute 59th Street NW, as well as for land grading and reinforcing the planned terminal area with extra soil. Completion of those projects is slated for early summer, and is expected to lead into work on the terminal and runway in the second half of the season. 

Meanwhile, money from a $27 million land acquisition grant awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration in the fall of 2015 has still not been released, forcing the city to temporarily bear the entire cost of land purchased for the site of the new airport.

Last fall, project heads paid about $13.5 million for roughly 1,500 acres northwest of Williston off of the Highway 85 truck bypass route. The money came out of the city’s coffers, with the expectation of federal reimbursement for at least half of the land costs. 

Deeds to the 10 parcels have been recorded with the county, but the FAA requires a substantial amount of additional paperwork to be filed before the promised money will be handed over. 

“It’s more red tape than we anticipated, but it’s to be expected that it will be resolved, probably pretty close to a matter of weeks,” Tuan said. “We have to give the federal government a separate set of documents that says we’re going to protect the mineral and cultural resources that are on site.”

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