By Anna Jauhola
After a multiple year process, Hallock Airport has a new hangar and will soon have a paved taxiway for access to the building.
The T-hangar and taxiway have been on the airport’s federal layout plan for years, said Airport Manager Jeremy Seng. The entire project is a $1.4 million investment and now, the paving portion of the project is nearly complete and funding came in under budget too.
“We bid the project two years in a row, then hopefully you get a good bid that comes in under cost and they might want to do the project all at once,” Seng said. “That didn’t happen.”
But this year, even with COVID-19 being a major hindrance, the city bid the project again and had at least five companies submit bids for the taxiway.
“With the virus situation, we didn’t know what was going to happen, but we’re moving dirt, so that’s good,” Seng said.
Davidson Construction is contracted to build the taxiway and has 30 days to do it. Seng said they started dirt work last week for laying the foundation for concrete, but after some heavy rains, the ground is too wet to continue immediately.
The other good news is through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the airport received $30,000 in funding to cover operations, plus the federal share of the taxiway project was completely paid. CARES money covered 10 percent and Federal Aviation Administration funds covered 90 percent.
“It was kind of nice for the city because their local share went way down,” Seng said.
There are portions of the paving project federal money won’t cover, but the Minnesota Department of Transportation Aeronautics and Aviation division paid for 75 percent of that, leaving the city with a $10,613 bill for the paving portion.
The entire project has been something of a feat in itself. Seng said the FAA rarely approves using federal funds to build hangars. Airports, like Hallock’s, on the FAA’s Airport Improvement Plan receive grant money each year. Hallock gets $150,000. They can bank that for three years before they have to use it, but they can also lend the funding to other airports to help with their projects. The city of Hallock borrowed $74,477.45 from Mahnomen’s account to complete the taxiway.
To get approval for this project first, the Hallock Airport had to have everything “air-side” in good shape, such as the runway itself and the lighting system, which was upgraded a few years ago.
“To build a hangar with FAA funds is nearly impossible. Hangar space on the FAA’s priority list is very low. It’s all about timing. So you have to have all your air-side needs taken care of before you use FAA funding to build a hangar,” Seng said. “We are very fortunate that we were able to make that happen because they’re costly. Without hangar space, you don’t have storage for planes, and if you don’t have storage for airplanes you don’t have an airport.”
The airport was built in the 1970s and has only had up to 10 hangar spots for rent, which have essentially been filled. Over the last 10 years, Seng has had interest from many parties who would like to either rent hangar space or build private hangars to keep planes in Hallock.
“But we had no space for them,” Seng said. “And because of our climate, nobody’s going to be willing to park their airplane on the ramp in the winter.”
Building a private hangar in the past was not in the cards because there was no taxiway access.
“So with this hangar, we doubled our airplane storage capacity,” Seng said.
The large new hangar will have taxiway access from the west and the east. The eastern taxiway access will allow, in the future, the possibility of private parties building their own hangars.
In the meantime, the new hangar has eight stalls that provide 42-foot doors, one hangar has a 50-foot door and one has a 60-foot door. Many current and long-time renters have already secured space in the new hangar, opening up space in the older hangars for those who have expressed interest.
By Anna Jauhola