Jun. 2—BEMIDJI — The Bemidji Regional Airport is set to receive nearly $6,550,000 in federal funding to make upgrades, with U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith announcing the investment on Thursday.
"Investments in our airport infrastructure serve as a down payment on the long-term economic well-being of our state," Klobuchar said in a release announcing the funding. "By enabling upgrades, this federal funding will help boost efficiency and improve safety for travelers at Bemidji Regional Airport."
Smith added that the Bemidji Regional Airport is a key transportation hub and economic driver for Bemidji and its neighboring communities.
"I'm excited to see this law making an impact on our state and will keep looking for opportunities to improve our infrastructure," she said.
On Friday, Klobuchar met with local leaders and airport officials to discuss the funding and the project it will go toward.
Starting June 10, one of the airport's runways will be in the process of an upgrade to help it better withstand takeoffs and landings.
"Those heavier planes definitely take a toll on the runways," said Kyle Christiansen, director of operations for the Bemidji Regional Airport Authority. "It starts to show its age over time, so it's good to get a refresh."
While construction is underway, airport traffic will use the other runway, except for the period when work focuses on the intersection. If the project goes as expected, work is anticipated to be finished by Aug. 1.
In September the runway will once again be closed, for about two weeks, to allow for the surface to be painted.
While still returning to pre-pandemic levels of traffic, the Bemidji Regional Airport is the fourth busiest commercial airport in Minnesota. In 2022 the facility received more than 53,000 arriving and departing passengers.
Alongside working toward its own success, the airport also plays a pivotal role in the surrounding community, supporting businesses and tourism.
"Our tourism has continued to grow, and we have so much business travel that this airport supports," said Bemidji Mayor Jorge Prince. "It's amazing."
In this effort to support growth, the airport is also looking to develop a new taxi lane to allow for more businesses to have hangars on site. Planning and funding for the proposal are still being discussed.
The federal funding provided to the airport is a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure law, which both Klobuchar and Smith helped to pass.
"We're so excited to help with the federal funding," Klobuchar said.
(c)2023 The Bemidji Pioneer (Bemidji, Minn.)
Visit The Bemidji Pioneer (Bemidji, Minn.) at www.bemidjipioneer.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.