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More aviation funding approved in North DakotaMore aviation funding approved in North Dakota

Editor's note: This story was updated March 25 to report the signing into law of House Bill 1066 and add comments from the director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission.

A bill to provide $20 million from oil revenue for airport improvements in North Dakota as part of a $100 million infrastructure appropriation has been signed into law by Gov. Doug Burgum.

Photo by Chris Rose.

AOPA Great Lakes Regional Manager Kyle Lewis had urged support for the measure in the legislature and from the general aviation community, pointing out that with current support "stretched thin for maintaining the state’s 89 public-use airports, the large-scale influx of capital would be the first of its kind, driven by surging demand for aviation services."

Burgum signed the bill, nicknamed Operation Prairie Dog, March 20. It will establish an airport infrastructure fund from which the aeronautics commission can provide grants from funds made available by legislative appropriations.

“Pavement maintenance, navaids, hangars, and other airfield-related funding requests through 2024 are upwards of $840 million. The infrastructure bill is a welcome breath of fresh air for the state’s aviation system,” Lewis said, adding that North Dakota "is being proactive in finding solutions to its large-scale funding needs, and funding those needs based on priorities.”

Action on the measure came with the state’s aviation system already in the spotlight: A new commercial airport, the Williston Basin International Airport, is scheduled to open in October in the state’s oil-producing district, and as a governor’s proclamation recognized March as Aviation Month.

The new airport would act as an operational replacement for Sloulin Field, which as passenger use grows is saddled with challenges including the condition of its pavement, excessive runway slope for aircraft expected to use the facility, and other out-of-standard deficiencies that could preclude federal funding of repairs.

“North Dakota fully understands the benefits of smart and efficient infrastructure as well as the economic impact and heightened standard of living that our airports provide to their communities. We are excited to see that our state leaders have worked out a solution to establish a new airport infrastructure fund with the intent that it will allow the state to provide consistent, long-term airport infrastructure grant funding," said Kyle Wanner, director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission. "This signed legislation will greatly help the Aeronautics Commission in our work with the federal government and our local communities to plan, prioritize, and complete projects in a timely manner. The North Dakota airport system has seen unprecedented growth over the last 10 years and the state wants to continue to maintain a leadership role in providing solutions to both maintain and to grow its critical airport infrastructure. This is truly an exciting and legacy impacting moment for North Dakota aviation.”

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, State Legislation, Taxes

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