Williston, ND, located in the heart of the Bakken Formation, has grown in population significantly. Rapid increase has caused the need for housing, infrastructure, and other community amenities including air travel to surge. Sloulin Field International Airport’s extreme rise in enplanements has caused numerous concerns for the City of Williston. When flights are delayed the one-room departure hall becomes cramped and parking overflows causing passengers to become restless inside the small waiting area. Additionally, the runway no longer meets Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements and is not adequate for the type of aircraft landing at the Airport. The runway, constructed to accommodate 25,000-pound aircraft, is now supporting 50,000-pound aircraft.
KLJ performed an evaluation which indicated it would be extremely difficult and less cost effective to modify the existing site to accommodate demand and FAA requirements. Thus, KLJ performed a site selection study to determine if alternative locations could be selected allowing the Airport to grow as well as meet requirements for larger aircraft.
KLJ’s project team worked diligently to accelerate the project. The team accomplished this by executing an airport feasibility and site selection study and the planning process as well as an Environmental Assessment (EA) concurrently. During the environmental process, KLJ evaluated several alternative locations based on various factors which included environmental impacts, cost of construction, hazardous wildlife attractants, aeronautical obstructions, airport utility, and FAA regulations. In addition, KLJ compared compatible land use and socioeconomic impacts for each alternative location. KLJ also obtained vital stakeholder and agency input by hosting several public information meetings throughout the process.
The Environmental Assessment began in 2012 and was submitted to the FAA for approval in August 2015. KLJ was able to obtain approval for the assessment in September 2015, making it the fastest environmental assessment approval for an airport relocation in two decades.
The City of Williston secured all of the land for the airport in 2016. Design is currently underway for a majority of the airfield projects, and construction is projected to start in the spring of 2017. The FAA has granted $54 million as of January 2017 to assist in funding the airfield projects. This project was selected for an American Council of Engineering Companies of North Dakota (ACEC/ND) Engineering Excellence award.