After nearly four years of construction, the Detroit Lakes - Becker County Airport upgrade project is expected to be completed this summer.

With about 95% of the new above-ground fencing installed, the project is a new control gate, some fence under skirting and landscape grading away from finishing the nearly $25 million construction project, under budget estimates, said Taylor Peterson, engineering task leader for Mead and Hunt.

"The fence is in with the exception of just the area's around the terminal building," said Peterson. "Then, they actually have to put in kind of an underground portion along that whole entire line as well, which they'll be starting next week, I think."

Sub-contractors will be completing the fence underskirt over the next month, he said. The underskirt is fencing buried underground to prevent burrowing animals from gaining access to the airport.

A new automatic gate is also being added to the back of the terminal, which will be controlled with a keypad to allow more access to the airfield. The gate is expected to be completed by mid-April, according to the Mead and Hunt construction update.

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Additionally, final grading, and grass seeding, to the airport's drainage pools should be completed by early-summer, Peterson said.

"I'd say we're in the punch list phase here," said Peterson. "It is touch ups, basically."

The expanded, and widened, runways at the airport opened last summer.

"I would expect capacity to increase (at the airport)," he said. "Hopefully, it'll attract new business to the area … and it should just be stimulating for the entire community."

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A new Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) was also installed as part of the project. The system provides real-time updates on airport weather conditions. At 2:55 p.m., on March 30, the AWOS reported: wind from 280°, at 22 knots, with gusts to 32 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, few clouds at 4,100 feet, few clouds at 4,600 feet, ceiling is broken at 5,000 feet, temperature -3°C, dewpoint -14°C.

"As far as the engineering design, and construction administration, side of things that's kind of been my baby for the last five years, from start to finish," he said.

Once construction is completed, members of the Federal Aviation Administration and Minnesota Department of Transportation will be invited to an open house at the airport to celebrate the finished project, however, due to the COVID019 pandemic, the date remains to-be-determined, said Peterson.

The city's airport commission is also looking at more projects at the airport and is applying for $935,480 in grant funding through MnDOT to begin replacing the roof on the terminal building. The grant funding is also expected to be used to prepare airport hangar's for various rehab projects, according to city's letter of intent received by MnDOT.