WILLISTON, N.D. — The newly constructed Williston Basin International Airport (XWA) had a media tour ahead of its official Oct. 10 opening, providing a first look of the completed $273 million project that marks the first brand-new commercial airport since the 1940s.
Sloulin Field was determined to not meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) design standards for many of the aircraft currently using the airport, and so efforts started on a new project in 2010, with a groundbreaking held on Oct. 10, 2016.
Exactly three years later, on Oct. 10, operations will officially commence at XWA with a United Airlines flight from Denver scheduled to arrive at 10:15 a.m.
The new facility, completed by JE Dunn Construction, was built to accommodate what is currently needed and includes space for future growth.
It includes amenities such as passenger boarding bridges, a full restaurant and Williston's only escalators.Working on the project was "an amazing privilege," Airport Director Anthony Dudas said.
"I can't say enough for the visionary leadership of the city's leaders to get this project where it is today," he said. "As we transitioned into building a new airport, it took a tremendous partnership with a number of agencies."
Williston City Commissioner Chris Brostuen said XWA "is going to play a large role in the community as we develop."
"It's an unbelievable asset we're rolling out this week," Brostuen said.
In terms of airport development, XWA was an "extremely fast project," Dudas said.
"While it's been nine years through its initial infancy to where we're at today, that is the fastest that I'm aware of that it's even been accomplished in commercial service airport relocation, from its idea to actual commencement of operations," he said.
As with any large scale project, XWA came with challenges.
"There were days where we were wringing hands and wiping sweat off brows. Might have even been a few tears shed," Brostuen said. "There was some hard days and we looked at that calendar and wondered, are we going to meet that date?"
The design and construction of the new airport required many great partners, Dudas said.
"We've had over 100 different contractors and people involved in making this airport become a reality," he said.