Hartsfield-Jackson moving forward with plans to widen Concourse D

Concourse D, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Concourse D, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Hartsfield-Jackson International is moving forward with plans to revamp one of the most crowded and cramped areas of the airport: Concourse D.

The Atlanta City Council transportation committee on Wednesday voted in favor of a $5 million contract for “early pre-construction” planning of the concourse widening project.

The full project is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take five years to complete, said Hartsfield-Jackson general manager Balram Bheodari.

“Concourse D is our narrowest concourse,” Bheodari said. “The customer service level that we deliver to our customers is failing, it’s an F-minus. We need to modernize this concourse.”

While Concourses A, B and C are each 90 feet wide, Concourse D is only 60 feet wide.

Each of the four concourses opened in 1980 when the airport’s current domestic terminal debuted. But Concourse D was designed for smaller regional planes with fewer passengers. Now, it is used by larger jets with more passengers.

During busy travel periods, “You have to fight your way through the concourse,” Bheodari said. “The restrooms are undersized. The concessions are undersized. Everything about the concourse is undersized.”

The airport plans to expand Concourse D to 102 feet wide and lengthen it by about 145 feet.

If granted final approval by city council, the construction management contract will call for joint venture Holder-Moody-Bryson-Sovereign to develop plans for how to construct the project in phases and to estimate how much it will cost. The work will have to be done in phases to allow for use of other gates on the concourse while construction is going on.

“This is going to be a very complex and expensive project,” Bheodari said.