ATL and other Georgia airports to get piece of $1B federal grants

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Thursday, Nov 17, 2022.  The area's circular atrium skylight, lounge seating options, large windows and digital information boards provide for United passengers.  (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Thursday, Nov 17, 2022. The area's circular atrium skylight, lounge seating options, large windows and digital information boards provide for United passengers. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Hartsfield-Jackson International and airports in Savannah and Valdosta are set to receive millions of dollars in federal funds as part of a broader round of nearly $1 billion in infrastructure grants for projects nationwide, the White House announced Thursday.

The Atlanta airport is set to receive $4 million for renovation and expansion of up to six restrooms in the terminal complex, according to a news release, and the funding will help pay for a $26.7 million restroom overhaul. The airport had originally requested $11.3 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Airport Terminal Grant Program.

The condition of restrooms is critical to the airport, said Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Andrew Gobeil.

“When people fly into Atlanta, that’s going to be the first place that people may go,” Gobeil said. “We want to make sure it’s clean, it’s presentable, it’s comfortable. And it’s vitally important.”

As part of the funding announced by the White House on Thursday, Valdosta Regional Airport is set to get a $3 million grant to help pay for the replacement of its air traffic control tower and Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is recommended to receive $5 million in funding to help pay for structural elements of a four-gate terminal expansion.

“We all know that a flight doesn’t begin just when you settle into your seat on board. First you’re in the terminal, and your experience depends in many ways on the conditions of that terminal building,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg during a media briefing announcing $970 million in grants for 114 airports around the country.

The Atlanta airport detailed its planned restroom rehabilitation and expansion project in a document to seek other federal funding, listing plans for the expansion or modification of restrooms on Concourse T, Concourse C, Concourse F and the international terminal; as well as adding adult changing facilities on Concourse C and in the domestic terminal and a nursing room in Concourse C.

Hartsfield-Jackson said in the document that it had conducted an evaluation of restrooms at the airport and found that “based on anticipated 2028 passenger demand, the domestic terminal, international terminal and majority of concourses lacked sufficient square footage for restroom facilities to meet the anticipated short-term demand.” The evaluation also considered the need for family restrooms, adult changing facilities and nursing rooms.

In the document, the airport requested the use of passenger facility charges, which are collected with the sale of every ticket and make up a separate pool of federal funding, to pay for $10.4 million of the restrooms project. Beyond the PFC funds and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grant, the airport planned to pay for the remainder with local funds.

The restroom rehabilitation project at the Atlanta airport is expected to start in July 2024 and be completed in June 2025. It’s the first of six phases to rehabilitate restrooms across the terminals and concourses at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Two years ago, Hartsfield-Jackson got a larger injection of $40 million of federal funding from the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to help pay for a massive project that’s underway now to widen Concourse D

Natalie Quillian, White House deputy chief of staff, noted that last month, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens spoke with President Joe Biden about the Concourse D expansion project. Dickens visited the Oval Office with a miniature model of a massive transporter vehicle that is used to move large sections of the terminal expansion that are built off-site and then transported onto the airport property and attached to the existing Concourse D.