Hartsfield-Jackson’s Concourse D widening project to cost $1.4 billion

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Inflation part of high cost of complex airport expansion, official said.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport officials have been vague about the cost and timing for one of the more complicated projects in their long-range expansion plans — the expansion of Concourse D.

But on Wednesday, Balram Bheodari, the airport’s general manager, disclosed an eye-popping price tag of $1.4 billion and that construction is expected to take five years to complete.

Bheodari said the project will be one of the most complex the airport has undertaken. He had previously said the Concourse D widening would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but had not specified an actual total.

Airport projects are funded with airport revenue, including parking, fees on plane tickets and rents to concessionaires. But this project also received $40 million in federal funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law, as announced last month.

The two-level Concourse D is the narrowest of Hartsfield-Jackson’s seven concourses at 60-feet wide. The airport plans to make it 102-feet wide, and extend its length by 145 feet. It will also build larger restrooms and concessions on the concourse.

To continue handling the volume of flights and passengers that pass through the world’s busiest airport during construction, Hartsfield-Jackson now plans to build three new domestic gates on a pier off of international Concourse E.

Construction of those three gates is expected to start next year and take 12-15 months to complete, and its cost is included in the $1.4 billion price tag. The full cost is on par with the non-inflation adjusted price of the entire international terminal complex with Concourse F, which opened in 2012.

Bheodari disclosed the estimate for the full cost of the project while requesting approval from an Atlanta City Council committee for funding for early work to prepare for construction. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported earlier this week that the airport expects the next phase of the project to cost $160 million.

“We’re going to come back for many more hundreds of millions of dollars for this project,” Bheodari said.

He said the cost of steel, lumber and other supplies has increased, driving up the price tag for construction by about 20% from pre-pandemic levels.

“There are inflationary increases on all elements within the construction,” Bheodari said.

Enabling work is expected to start early next year and construction is expected to continue until 2028.

In order to widen the concourse, the airport will have to close four to eight gates at a time. Those closures could start next fall and continue in phases.

“We have to build this in the middle of a live operation,” both inside the concourse with passengers boarding flights and moving through the concourse and outside the concourse with aircraft pulling in and out of the gates, Bheodari said.