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Land Board approves $27.8 million for Oil Patch airports



BISMARCK, N.D. -- Airports around North Dakota's Oil Patch were awarded $27.8 million in grants Thursday by the Board of University and School Lands.

The Land Board formally approved the 11 applications to add new passenger terminals, acquire new land to expand runways and parking lots and purchase equipment, among other projects.

Minot's airport received the bulk of the funding -- $21.2 million. Bowman received $1.8 million and Dickinson $1.2 million.

The airports will first need to secure local or federal funding for their projects to receive the grant money.

The board pledged $25.5 million toward the projects in May, but construction bids exceeded the original project costs.

Larry Taborsky, director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, said the projects will be ongoing, and the funding will help get the airports on track toward adjusting to the influx in airport traffic.

"A different time, the places were set up for a certain volume of traffic and type of aircraft," Taborsky said. "We're finding, like the population and roads, they are going beyond their capacity."

According to the Aeronautics Commission, in July, 3,720 people started their trip from the Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport, up 1,693 compared to last year. In Williston, 8,289 boarded an airplane at the Sloulin Field International Airport compared to the 2,593 in 2012.

Earlier this week, the Federal Aviation Administration announced it was sending $17.5 million for improvements and construction projects at 10 North Dakota airports, helping fill a large portion of the local share needed to receive the grants from the Land Board.

On Thursday, the Land Board also approved a committee made up of members from the Health Department, state Emergency Medical Services Association, state firefighters association and others that will begin to set guidelines and eventually review applications from fire districts and local EMS organizations.

The Land Board has $7 million in grant money to give to EMS organizations and $6 million for fire districts.

To date, the Land Board has committed $122 million from the total $240 million given to it by the Legislature to allocate to oil-impacted areas during the 2013-15 biennium.

http://www.bakkentoday.com/event/article/id/35248/