Hartsfield-Jackson begins planning for next 20 years

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport officials are working on a new blueprint for development for the next 20 years.

It will be the first update of the airport's master plan since 1999. Among projects on the table: a new gate complex and a sixth runway, airport general manager Louis Miller has said.

Airport officials met Friday with Atlanta Regional Commission's transportation coordinating committee. The panel noted the airport's strengths including its role in attracting international business to metro Atlanta and driving economic development, as well as its efficient layout.

They also pointed out some weaknesses, including congested parking, confusing access roads, limited land for expansion and limited commercial development around the airport. Jon Tuley, an Atlanta Regional Commission planner, also noted the limited natural light in much of the airport.

"We really do have a very good airport," said David Haynes, a planner for the ARC's transportation division. "Obviously, there's always room for improvement."

The opening of the fifth runway in 2006 and construction of a new international terminal opening this spring have dominated the airport's to-do list in recent years. But planners have long projected an eventual need for an additional domestic gate complex south of the existing concourses, as well as a sixth runway to boost capacity.

After a drop during the economic downturn, Hartsfield-Jackson set a new record of 92.4 million passengers using the airport in 2011, and it is expected to grow faster than average for decades to come, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The meeting with the ARC committee was one of a series the airport is holding with groups to solicit input on the scope of the master plan update, which is expected to take 18 to 24 months. The airport plans to eventually hold public meetings. Chicago-based aviation consulting firm Ricondo & Associates is working on the master plan update with the airport, on a contract worth up to $3 million for the first year.

About the Author

Editors' Picks