Williston breaks ground on new airport

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WILLISTON, N.D. - After six years of planning, the Williston Basin International Airport broke ground Monday. A ceremony was held at the site of the future airport Monday afternoon.

The oil boom of the last decade has put Williston on the map.

"Williston, the region, you really play at a national level now when you talk about energy production. Everybody knows about the Williston Basin. It's a big thing, it's a big deal," says Sen. John Hoeven, (R-N.D.).

To meet the new demands for air travel, a new airport was needed.

"I'm happy to be here and celebrate with the community. A lot of hard work has been taken to get them here. This is for the future of the community and for the aviation demands in the area," says Sue Mowery-Schalk, Great Lakes Director, FAA.

The $256 million, 109,000 square foot project will be able to accommodate 350,000 passengers every year. And now it's full speed ahead for the state of the art facility.

"We've already got grants for part of the runway, we've got grants for mass grading projects, for the roadway construction. We're going to be starting moving on major projects here soon," says Steven Kjergaard, Williston Airport Director.

Officials are hoping the facility will be a centerpiece for the region.

"Williston and the region are going to continue to grow because we're an energy powerhouse for the country. Commodity prices are down now, but they're starting to come back, they will come back. This is going to be a long-term proposition with a lot of growth," says Hoeven.

And it's not just Williston that will benefit from the airport.

"Everyone will be able to use it, from Canada down south to Dickinson. This will be a major improvement for everyone involved in the area," says Kjergaard.

More than 100 people came out to celebrate the beginning of a new era in Western North Dakota.

The new airport could be open as early as 2018.