Airport sets course on massive parking project

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is inviting contractors to begin work on a massive project to more than double the size of its parking decks, an effort expected to take at least eight years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Total parking garage spaces would jump to 32,000 from 13,000 now, according to bid documents. Pedestrian bridges also will be added to enable people to avoid crossing the busy roadway in front of the domestic terminal entrances.

More than 100 people interested in a contract to design the project attended a meeting Tuesday at Hartsfield-Jackson. A separate contract is planned for demolition — expected to begin in 2017 — and construction.

The expansion of the domestic terminal garages is part of Hartsfield-Jackson’s master plan, unveiled last year. The airport estimated the cost to be $550 million to $750 million in 2014 dollars.

Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Reese McCranie said the existing decks are decades old and not structured to support the weight of four additional levels.

A key reason the project is expected to take so long is that the airport must keep parking available while it demolishes each deck and rebuilds at the same site.

“That’s a huge challenge,” said David Pino, Hartsfield-Jackson’s development program director of project management.

To provide parking during the work, the airport plans to build a third parking deck next to the Georgia International Convention Center to accommodate about 6,000 cars. People using that deck will have to take the existing SkyTrain people-mover to get from that parking structure to the terminal.

“People won’t be impacted until the fall of 2017,” McCranie said. “We will have a replacement deck in place once we start construction and replacement of the parking structures.”

The new decks will rise to eight levels, up from four now, with 15,000 spaces on the Terminal North side and 17,000 parking spaces on the Terminal South side after completion. Pedestrian bridges will be built from level four, according to plans.

The airport now has a total of 29,000 public spaces, including long-term lots and other non-garage spaces.

Parking is a top source of revenue for the airport, which faces competition from numerous off-site lots.