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Funding cleared for new airport runway

WASHINGTON -- The Grand Forks International Airport has received a $4.98 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for a new crosswind runway.

WASHINGTON -- The Grand Forks International Airport has received a $4.98 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for a new crosswind runway.

"Grand Forks Airport is a vital gateway for those looking to travel in and out of the increasingly popular Red River Valley," North Dakota's congressional delegation said in a joint statement Friday. "This grant will help to ensure Grand Forks Airport continues to serve the public effectively while remaining safe and up-to-date."

Steve Johnson, the airport executive, said the new runway will be in use when the wind blows east or west. There is now only one crosswind runway shared by airlines, cargo planes and general aviation, he said.

The Grand Forks Airport is one of the 50 busiest airports in the country, based on the number of take-offs and landings, with nearly 40,000 flights per month, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Much of that comes from UND's flight school.

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So far this year, Johnson said, UND usage is up 10 percent.

Airport officials opened bids from contractors on Monday and, with news of the grant, they'll make the needed applications next week. Johnson said he expects a two-week turn around before contractors can get cracking.

The runway is expected to be completed in October, when the Grand Forks landfill is scheduled to close. Had there been a delay in funding, city leaders would have been able to keep the landfill open until the following year.

The new runway would put aircraft right over the landfill, a hazard because of the threat birds pose to low-flying planes.

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