Airport Improvement Project underway

Melody Montgomery
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
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Construction is underway at the Stanford Airport/Biggerstaff Field, as evidenced by the heavy equipment moving dirt at the east entrance to Stanford on US 87.

Photo by Melody Montgomery 

Judith Basin County’s biggest project for 2020 is underway. This estimated $2.7 million dollar project involves improving and upgrading the Stanford Airport/Biggerstaff Field. Construction started August 10, and completeion is expected mid-October.

This large project had been in the works 10 years. It involves the reconstruction and rehabilitation of runways, taxiways and aprons at the Stanford airport.

At the start of 2020, the county put together a Board of Directors for the project and established flight zone regulations. A public hearing was then held on August 19, 2020.

Another step was going to bid. In May 2020, Schellinger Construction was awarded the bid to complete the work. Schellinger’s bid was recommended by the engineering firm Robert, Peccia and Associates, and the County Commissioners accepted this recommendation.

To fund this project, limiting the tax burden to local residents, Judith Basin County has been saving up federal dollars for this project for a decade. For example, just recently in 2019, the Stanford Airport was one of 13 rural airports in the state to receive federal funds through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program. 

“It’s an annual program. These funds build up each year until you have enough to fund a project,” said Commissioner Cody McDonald. “Basically, you save the money up over time. Our runway project is estimated at $2.7 million total, and we have saved that money over the past 10 years.”

Of note, with additional funding recently becoming available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (i.e., CARES Act), the total project is now fully funded by Federal Aviation Administration dollars and the CARES Act; an expected $270,000 cost match by the county is no longer necessary.

The Commission Minutes have noted that the recently formed Stanford Flyers Club has been an asset in the planning.

Tyler Youderian is president of the Stanford Flyers Club, Inc., a non-profit formed in January 2017. Its overall mission is to support the local aviation community, provide pilot services and enhance facilities at the airport in Stanford. You do not even need to own a plane to enjoy a trip to-and-from Stanford. Many people rent planes or fly with a flight instructor.  

As a non-profit, the Stanford Flyers Club manages and distributes funds received through donations, grants and memorials to advance aviation in Central Montana. For example, these funds are used for maintenance, repairs, new facilities, and purchasing equipment and machinery for the airport in Stanford. 

“The main purpose of the Stanford Flyers Club is to keep the Stanford airport viable for all types of planes,” said Youderian. “It is important these small communities keep their airports open and functional. A lack of pilot services can prevent emergency responders, businesses, and recreational pilots from visiting our small towns.”