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Airport work prompts temporary closure

The Bemidji Regional Airport remains closed as crews continue reconstruction of the main runway.

The nine-day closure began on Wednesday. The airport will reopen for normal operation at 5 a.m. Sept. 14.

The Bemidji Regional Airport has two runways. The primary runway, also referred to as 13/31, runs northwest to southeast. The secondary runway, known as the crosswind or 7/25, runs southwest to the northeast. The two runways intersect north of the airport terminal.

The crosswind runway was reconstructed last year. When the reconstruction of the primary runway began this year, the crosswind was used in its place.

But both needed to be temporarily closed as crews work on the section that intersects.

"They cross and make an X," said Bemidji City Councilor Ron Johnson, who serves as one of two city representatives on the Bemidji Airport Commission. "(The airport) needed to be closed because they're working on that section."

Even though the airport reopens next week, the entire project will not yet be complete, Johnson said. But the section that overlaps will be finished, allowing the crosswind runway to again support airplane traffic.

"The runway won't be done in a week," Johnson said. "They're just fixing the critical junction."

Once complete, the project will essentially move the primary runway 900 feet to the northwest, extending its total length from 6,600 feet to 7,000 feet.

The airport has two zoning designations that provide a grid area for a potential crash. They are designed to keep structures out of the potential crash zone. Currently, the intersection of U.S. Highway 71 and State Highway 197 and some existing businesses are within the grid zone. Once moved, the runway will be completely on airport property.

The current reconstruction project, which was funded in part by an $8.1 million federal grant, is the second phase in the airport's master plan.