Williams County Commissioner Strongly Against New Williston Airport

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While progress is moving forward on the new Williston Airport, not everyone is happy with the project.

Williams County Commissioner Martin Hanson is speaking out against the planned Williston Basin International Airport.

"I wasn't going to do anything about any of this, until I heard Mr. Kjeraard on KUIZ Radio in a sound bite saying what a showplace this is going to be for the Williston. A Showplace," Hanson said.

Hanson has written a letter urging the Williston City Commission to look at an alternative plan.

"They can extend the runway on land they already own, make it 1,100 feet longer, make it 50 feet wider, and it will be exactly the same as Minot's runway," Hanson said.

Airport Director Steven Kjergaard believes the new airport is necessary.

"A lot of people get the misinterpretation that we're building the facility for the future. We're actually building a facility we need now. We're not building a Taj Mahal, we're building something we absolutely need now," Kjergaard said.

With the price tag changing multiple times from the original estimate, Hanson believes there's a reason a new airport is being pushed through.

"KLJ wants the commissions, and the current airport manager wants it on his resume that he got a new airport built quicker than anybody else in the United States," Hanson said.

But Kjergaard says the engineering firm KLJ is held accountable for those estimates.

"It's their job as engineers, they put their professional reputations, they put their engineer licenses on the line whenever they sign off on these estimates as well," Kjergaard said.

And because of North Dakota's long winter, it would take 14 months to make adjustments to the existing structure, which would shut down the airport completely and cost millions.

"If you take us out of the equations, you the state just lost $400 million of economic impact," Kjergaard said.

Hanson says that since no dirt has been moved and no land has been bought, they can still walk away from the airport before it's too late.

Hanson claims he doesn't want the bill for the airport to fall onto taxpayers, and that he's not convinced the project can be funded entirely with government funding and the sale of the existing airport.