Hartsfield-Jackson gets federal grant for taxiway project

A taxiway construction project to improve safety and allow more flights to take off at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is getting a boost from the federal government.

The Federal Aviation Administration is awarding a $15.8 million infrastructure grant to Hartsfield-Jackson to fund the first phase of construction of the Runway 9L “end-around” taxiway.

The end-around taxiway is aimed at reducing the number of runway crossings, which can increase the risk of collisions on the ground and add to the taxi time required for aircraft on the airfield.

An end-around taxiway built in 2007 on the north side of Hartsfield-Jackson’s airfield was designed to eliminate 600 to 700 runway crossings a day.

The 9L end-around taxiway on the south side of the airfield will allow planes “to taxi unimpeded” around the end of the runway while other planes are taking off and will increase the runway’s capacity for departing flights, according to the airport’s master plan.

But the new end-around taxiway will also take up space currently occupied by airport parking lots. The airport will have to close its park-ride reserve lot and park-ride lots A and B, a total of more than 5,000 spaces, according to the master plan.

The airport is building replacement parking lots and decks to make up for the loss.

The budget for the end-around taxiway project was listed as $59.5 million in Hartsfield-Jackson's master plan completed in 2015, which laid out $6 billion worth of projects over the next 20 years.

The 9L end-around taxiway is expected to be completed by 2021, according to the airport's master plan website.

The federal grant for the first phase of construction for the project is one of $282.6 million in grants awarded to 67 airports around the country Tuesday as part of the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in a written statement called it “an important investment” in the airport’s air service “and the economic vitality of the region.”

Hartsfield-Jackson general manager Roosevelt Council called the project “especially important" for Hartsfield-Jackson because it will increase efficiencyand improve safety.