Commercial flights on track to resume Friday at Grand Forks International

A construction project began on Aug. 22, prompting a stoppage of commercial service. At 10:14 a.m. Friday, Sept. 2, a Delta flight is expected from Minneapolis, getting things back to normal at the local airport.

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Construction workers prepare the new sections of reconstructed runway for painting Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022 at the Grand Forks International Airport.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — A construction project that has meant the stoppage of commercial traffic at Grand Forks International Airport is on schedule, according to the airport’s director.

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And all signs point to the resumption of commercial service Friday morning.

Ryan Riesinger, executive director of the Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority, said this week that good construction weather throughout the span of the project has been a big help in pushing it along — and on schedule.

“The project has gone well,” he said. “The weather has generally cooperated, other than a couple of brief periods of rain. Although not currently 100% complete, we believe the overall project has gone well and the finished product to date looks great.”

The approximately $10.5 million repair is part of an overarching, yearslong infrastructure upgrade at the airport, among the largest in its history. Riesinger has said it is expected to make the airport more efficient and increase its capacity.


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Construction workers finish a section of newly poured concrete on the intersection of two runways Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022 at the Grand Forks International Airport. Flights are scheduled to resume Friday, Sept. 2, 2022 at 10 a.m.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Without this upgrade, it’s possible the airport would have to undergo a series of flight disruptions in the coming years as work continues on the infrastructure project, which is to include the lengthening of the secondary runway, he said. Later, renovations can begin on the main runway, but without disruption.

The project — and the temporary closure of the runway — began Aug. 22 and is set to conclude Friday. Riesinger said the first plane scheduled to arrive is a Delta flight from Minneapolis at 10:14 a.m. That plane will then depart at 10:59 p.m.

The process of construction and closure has gone off with relatively few issues, Riesinger said.

“We did encounter poor subgrade soil, where we had to dig deeper and fill with an aggregate base to get a better foundation,” he said. “We anticipated this would happen in a few areas and were prepared to address it.”

And now — beginning a little after 10 a.m. Friday — the project’s completion should help create a future at GFK with more improvements but with relatively few big construction-related inconveniences, according to Riesinger.

“The completion of this intersection reconstruction project is an important one as it will allow for all future phases of the Airfield Development Program to be completed without any disruption to large aircraft operations, including commercial flights,” Riesinger said. “As currently planned, after the 2028 construction season, GFK will have two new runways able to support large aircraft operations (we have only had one such runway historically). This will result in enhanced safety, improved efficiency, and increased capacity for the airport.”

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Korrie Wenzel has been publisher of the Grand Forks Herald and Prairie Business Magazine since 2014.

He is a member of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. board of directors and, in the past, has served on boards for Junior Achievement, the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, United Way, Empire Arts Center, Cornerstones Career Learning Center and Crimestoppers.

As publisher, Wenzel oversees news, advertising and business operations at the Herald, as well as the newspaper's opinion content.

Wenzel can be reached at 701-780-1103, or via Twitter via @korriewenzel.
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