Hartsfield-Jackson to begin renovation of South terminal parking deck

Work could disrupt traffic
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta is starting a years-long project to tear down and rebuild some parking decks.  John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)



Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta is starting a years-long project to tear down and rebuild some parking decks. John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is moving forward with a plan to to revamp aging parking decks at the domestic terminal, with work beginning this spring.

The Atlanta airport is seeking Atlanta City Council approval for a contract with joint-venture group Holder-Austin-Moody-Bryson for work on the South parking deck of the domestic terminal across from Delta Air Lines’ check-in and baggage claim areas. The initial $3 million contract is for pre-construction services for the South deck project, to be completed in 2026. But the entire replacement of the airport’s parking decks is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

The work is the latest airport construction project that could cause detours and disruptions for travelers at Hartsfield-Jackson. Airport officials plan a communications campaign in coming weeks to inform travelers how they can navigate around the construction.

City documents say the South parking deck is more than 40 years old, and studies and inspections have determined it must be replaced.

An initial year-long project to start in May will shore up the existing South deck to last for the next three to five years, according to the airport. Then, similar work will be done on the North deck. Shoring up the decks will allow them to continue to be partially used when they are eventually demolished in stages, according to the airport.

“We’ve had to do this in phases to allow for ongoing access to parking on airport,” said Hartsfield-Jackson senior deputy general manager Michael Smith.

The airport will eventually embark on a massive, years-long project to demolish the North and South parking decks and replace them — part of the airport’s $6 billion expansion and modernization plan to prepare for future passenger traffic growth.

The airport built two new remote parking decks — the ATL Select park-ride shuttle lot at 1800 Sullivan Road and the ATL West deck, connected to the domestic terminal via free SkyTrain — to expand and replace parking options while the North and South decks are under construction. But they are not as convenient as the North and South daily and hourly decks that are a short walk from the terminal

The airport has waffled on parking deck construction because of changes in consumer habits. The original plan was to replace the old decks with new ones that would double the size from four levels to eight. It was estimated to cost $550 million to $750 million in 2014 dollars.

Then, increased use of Uber and Lyft decreased demand for parking, and the prospect of self-driving cars raised the possibility that parking demand could fall further in future years. The project was delayed and scaled back, with airport officials saying they wanted to replace the old structures with new decks of the same size.

And in February 2020 even before the pandemic drove a sharp decline in air travel, then-airport manager John Selden said airport parking revenue had begun to decline, and the airport would rethink the parking deck reconstruction plan and look at renovating the current decks to extend their use.

Current airport manager Balram Bheodari has decided to move forward with the plan to shore up the existing parking decks and rebuild them, despite competition from alternatives.

Parking is a key source of revenue for the airport.