Hector International Airport plans next steps for terminal expansion and parking improvement

By on August 25, 2021 0

Ahead of the terminal effort, projects total around $ 19 million over the coming year, said executive director Shawn Dobberstein.

The Fargo Airport Authority was about $ 11 million short, he noted, but expected federal and state grants to help the projects.

Dobberstein said a local share is also required. He was baffled by a motion from Commissioner John Strand to end a $ 2 million property tax in the city’s budget for airport improvement projects.

The levy has been in place for decades.

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The motion to end the two factories that collect roughly $ 1.4 million in city property taxes for airport projects failed with backing from Strand and Commissioner Dave Piepkorn.

Dobberstein said the move would have delayed the projects.

“It would set us back,” he said.

Strand said he is bringing forward the motion as they head to an independent airport authority from Fargo that oversees the operation of the airport. With this independence which has been a controversial issue in recent years, he said, all financial assistance for the installation should be ended.

“There should be a clear split,” Strand said, with Piepkorn adding that it was a “huge deal”.

Mayor Tim Mahoney said the airport fee used only for construction or capital projects is built into their short- and medium-term plans, and funding can go up to four mills.

Funding for the airport was part of the city’s budget which is due for final approval in the coming weeks, Mahoney said, noting that it should not be withdrawn.

Commissioner Tony Gehrig, who, along with Commissioner Arlette Preston, voted to retain the tax, said the tax had been “stable” in two factories for many years and that it was a “procedure normal “.

Preston believed there should be a better process for discussing the airport’s budget and operations, but Dobberstein said it was part of the mayor’s budget with all the details of their income and expenses submitted this summer.

“It’s all there for you to see,” he said. “It’s in the system.”

Meanwhile, Dobberstein said big plans for the coming year are a $ 7 million project to replace the concrete deck where planes can park. He said the original concrete installed in 1985 was “at the end of its life”.

Other major projects concern the parking areas, where a $ 1.2 million parking exit space will replace the decades-old ticket counters, new parking entry equipment will be installed and an additional parking area that will replace it. is currently turf will be paved.

Plans also include $ 500,000 to study the terminal expansion project over the next 10 months and an additional $ 500,000 for a new boarding bridge for used aircraft. Other planned work includes acquiring better equipment to collect de-icing chemicals, expanding the cargo plane’s apron and upgrading the security system.

Dobberstein said the expansion of the terminal, which is most visible to residents, will involve public participation in the coming year, as they hope to add four or five doors to the five currently in use. Once the airport authority approved the terminal study, it would then go to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval, which could take up to three months.

“It’s basically a congestion of the doors,” Dobberstein said in an interview before the meeting. He believes more airlines would offer flights if there were additional boarding gates.

The project could also involve more food options, new toilets, facilities and offices of the Transportation Security Administration.

Boardings at the airport have also increased over the years. In June and July, Dobberstein said, boardings were the second highest they have ever been during the summer months.

In July, there were 42,871 passengers, just 1% less than in July 2019, a record month of 43,437 passengers. He said there had been an increase in demand, with people having to use tickets they may have bought last year during the pandemic, as flights skyrocketed in North Dakota and across the country this summer.

Unfortunately for businesses, over the past 25 days or so airlines have reported more cancellations due to the delta variant of COVID-19 and other uncertainties, Dobberstein said.

Nonetheless, there has been a steady growth in the number of passengers over the past few years, necessitating more parking and expansion of the terminal.

Dobberstein also reported on several other private commercial projects on the huge grounds of the airport. They include a new United Parcel Service sorting facility, a Fargo Jet Center hangar and office expansion, a new Air National Guard operations center, a new National Guard operational readiness center and a new aviation hangar. by Bemidji.

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