Hartsfield-Jackson’s Concourse D widening shifts to next phase

$1.4 billion project will widen the main Concourse D corridor and allow for larger planes
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens speaks during an event as construction is underway to widen Hartsfield-Jackson Concourse D before a topping ceremony at the Modular Yard near the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Thursday, December. 14, 2023, in Atlanta. During the $1.3 billion project, starting next April each modular component will be transported and connected onto Concourse D, enabling most gates to remain active throughout. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens speaks during an event as construction is underway to widen Hartsfield-Jackson Concourse D before a topping ceremony at the Modular Yard near the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Thursday, December. 14, 2023, in Atlanta. During the $1.3 billion project, starting next April each modular component will be transported and connected onto Concourse D, enabling most gates to remain active throughout. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

The complicated construction project to widen the narrowest concourse at the world’s busiest airport reached a new high point — literally — as crews on Thursday hoisted a new beam to “top out” one portion of the multi-year expansion.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is enlarging Concourse D using an unusual pre-fab construction approach that allows construction while the airport continues 24/7 operations.

But the complex project will take until 2029 to complete, and will mean detours and disruptions for travelers on Concourse D in the meantime. Two gates closed earlier this year for utility work in preparation for the construction.

On Jan. 2, eight more gates on the North end of Concourse D will close for the construction project. Travelers will be directed through a corridor down the concourse alongside sections of the concourse that are blocked off.

Concourse D is the narrowest of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s seven concourses at 60-feet wide, forcing travelers to push their way through crowds during busy periods.

With the $1.4 billion project, the airport plans to make the concourse 99-feet wide and extend its length by about 288 feet.

The price tag includes $1.3 billion for the Concourse D widening, and $100 million to add three gates to Concourse E to mitigate the loss of gates. The project last year received $40 million in federal funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law, and will also be funded with airport bonds and passenger facility charges, which are the $4.50 fee per flight segment paid by airline passengers.

The first few modulars are shown under construction to widen Hartsfield-Jackson Concourse D at the Modular Yard near the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Thursday, December 14, 2023, in Atlanta. During the $1.3 billion project, starting next April each modular component will be transported and connected onto Concourse D, enabling most gates to remain active throughout. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

icon to expand image

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

The airport is building the new pieces of the concourse at a construction site off Sullivan Road on the south side of the airfield, and on Thursday afternoon Mayor Andre Dickens, airport officials, construction company representatives and others signed a beam that was lifted onto the first frame built.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens sounds a horn as a beam is put into place during an event as construction is underway to widen Hartsfield-Jackson Concourse D at the Modular Yard near the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Thursday, December. 14, 2023, in Atlanta. During the $1.3 billion project, starting next April each modular component will be transported and connected onto Concourse D, enabling most gates to remain active throughout. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

icon to expand image

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

“This is an investment as we look into the future,” said Hartsfield-Jackson General Manager Balram Bheodari.

Next April, the airport will transport the first section of the concourse to the airport to attach it like a building block to Concourse D, which over the next four months will have construction work done to prepare for the new piece to be attached.

The sections will be about 40 feet tall, roughly 30 feet deep and up to 192 feet long, and will be transported with special vehicles slowly along the airport’s taxiways in overnight hours.

When the widening is complete, Concourse D will actually end up with fewer gates. While there are currently 40 gates there, the new widened version will have just 34 gates. That’s because the project is aimed at accommodating larger jets that airlines are shifting to, which also need more space to park.

Airport officials said they downsized the number of gates planned for the concourse principally because of changes in the fleet of planes used by Delta. Delta this year retired small 50-seat regional jets from its fleet, and shifting to 70-seat reginal jets and mainline jets with 110 seats or more.