With almost exactly four months before the new Williston Basin International Airport is open for business, there are as many as 350 workers on site doing everything from putting up drywall in the terminal building to grading dirt and pouring concrete.
On Thursday, June 6, crews were laying concrete to finish the base for fifth and final lane of the runway at the new airport. While workers smoothed concrete on the far side of the terminal building, others were busy throughout the building itself, finishing installing roof trim, hanging siding, putting up drywall, preparing to hang lights and the ceiling treatment and laying flooring throughout the building.
In all, about 150 of the 350 workers on site are working on the terminal building.
“It’s really exciting to see it take shape,” Anthony Dudas, airport director, said.
The grading for the parking lot and the loop road that will bring passengers to the terminal is finished, and the light poles are installed in the lot that will serve as long-term parking.
Work is happening on the taxiways now, and on Wednesday, the FAA announced $8 million in grant money to support that work.
Because of federal rules, crews couldn’t pour concrete for the runway base until the ground temperature was above 50 degrees for 24 hours straight. That just happened about a week ago.
“Everyone was waiting with bated breath for it to warm up,” Dudas said.
Work is going to continue, as the projected opening date for the new airport is Oct. 10. The interior of the terminal is starting to take shape, but there is fit and finish work still to be done. There are acres of concrete yet to pour, both for the parking lot and for the runway and taxiway.
The current work on the runway is for the base, and once that’s finished, another 13 inches of concrete will go on top to finish the surface. The paving work isn’t just limited to the airport itself, though.
Paving is going to start on County Road 7, which will connect drivers from the Highway 85 bypass to the new airport, next week, Dudas said. The current plan is to have the paving work happen overnight, so work can continue at the airport site uninterrupted during the day.
In a couple of weeks, representatives from Williston are going to go inspect the three passenger boarding bridges that are being built for the airport. Dudas said he expects them to be at the airport sometime in July.
Further in the future will be the work of transitioning operations from Sloulin Field to the new airport. That’s scheduled to start in September. The hope is to minimize what needs to be moved between when the last flight leaves Sloulin Field on Oct. 9 and the first flight is ready to land at Williston Basin International on Oct. 10.
That leaves about four months. Dudas expressed confidence in the timeline.
“It’s been amazing to see the progress,” he said.