Dickinson Airport runway to get major upgrade

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The Dickinson Airport is getting an upgrade. A $64 million project will extend the main runway to create safer conditions for United's commercial jets that do two roundtrips between Denver and Dickinson daily.

The Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport's main runway hasn't had an upgrade in about 20 years, and the type of plane flying in has changed from turbo prop aircraft to jets.

"United started providing jet service between Denver and Dickinson," airport manager Kelly Braun said.

That's why Braun says it's time for a change. The runway now isn't built to hold a jet, meaning there are a lot of safety concerns.

"Its length, its width and its weight bearing capacity or its thickness and then the runway safety areas, the areas off the ends of the runway are deficient and they don't meet current FAA standards for runway safety area," Braun said.

The plan is to build a temporary parallel taxiway next year for the planes to come in on. And then spend the next two years working on the main runway so it's completed in 2021. Another driver behind the expansion is the number of people using the airport.

"We were about 50,000 emplanements in 2014 and we handled those folks with a facility that was designed to handle about 9,000 a year," Braun said.

Braun says they're on track for about 20,000 people this year.

The airport recently received almost $11 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation, and has about $3.6 million from the state for the project.

Braun says they have other grant applications out, and are hoping for more funding from the state and federal government for the project.