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Construction begins on $18 million airport runway extension project

City and county officials gathered at the Detroit Lakes-Becker County Airport Monday morning to break ground on an $18 million runway expansion project. (Vicki Gerdes/Tribune)

City and county officials gathered at the end of the main runway at the Detroit Lakes-Becker County Airport Monday morning to officially break ground on an $18 million runway extension project.

"Crews are mobilizing and getting set up this week, with construction set to begin in earnest next week," says Detroit Lakes City Administrator Kelcey Klemm. The plan is to widen and extend the runway, while also moving it 1,000 feet away from Highway 10 and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway corridor. The 4,500-foot runway will expand to 5,200 feet, and a parallel taxiway will follow its entire length.

"The runway and taxiway will go on top of where Airport Road is now," said Klemm, which is why that portion of Airport Road extending from Menard Drive to Longview Drive was closed permanently to the public on Monday.

The runway project is expected to be completed sometime in 2020, Klemm added.

"It will be done in phases," he said, noting that the project also includes the addition of a parallel taxiway that will run the entire length of the runway.

The reason why the project is being done in phases, Klemm added, is to cause as little disruption of airport traffic as possible during construction, and "to meet our funding ability from federal and state sponsors."

Approximately 90 percent of the project costs will be paid by federal funding, Klemm added, with the State of Minnesota set to contribute another 5 percent. The remainder of the cost will be split between the City of Detroit Lakes and Becker County, which have joint ownership of the airport.

The Detroit Lakes City Council approved a grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for airport land acquisition and runway improvements at a special Sept. 27 council meeting.

That meeting also included approval of a permit for the upcoming "Blocktoberfest" pub crawl event in downtown Detroit Lakes on Oct. 28, and some discussion of the final Facility Assessment & Space Needs Analysis for the police department and city administration buildings that was recently completed by BKV Group architects, among other matters.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454