Gwinnett airport, Georgia’s third busiest, to expand taxiway

You can’t buy a Delta ticket to fly into Lawrenceville, but that hasn’t stopped Gwinnett County’s airport from becoming the third busiest in Georgia.

Briscoe Field, situated in a more rural part of the county between Lawrenceville and Dacula, recorded 98,498 takeoffs and landings in 2018, according to county Department of Transportation Director Alan Chapman. While the airport doesn’t have any “scheduled air service” — flights sold by airlines to the general public — more flight operations were recorded at Briscoe Field than any airport that does, excluding Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which is the busiest in the world.

Also ahead of Briscoe Field is the Peachtree DeKalb Airport, another facility that does not have scheduled air service. Both metro Atlanta airports have traffic consisting primarily of private plane travel, recreational flying and flight training. The Gwinnett County Police Department also operates its helicopters out of Briscoe Field.

Briscoe Field has placed ahead of airports like Savannah-Hilton Head International, which provides scheduled air service, and Athens-Ben Epps Airport, which does not. There were 96,823 takeoffs and landings recorded at Savannah-Hilton Head in 2018 and 36,978 at Athens-Ben Epps.

Briscoe Field can accommodate all “light general aviation aircraft” and most corporate jets, the largest of which is the Gulfstream V, according to its website. Current economic impact figures are being calculated by the state department of transportation; the most recent numbers, from a 2011 study, showed the airport accounted for 730 jobs and more than $85.3 million in economic output.

The airport saw a spike in traffic for the Super Bowl in February and for the College Football Playoff championship game in 2018.

Although Briscoe Field records an average of 270 daily flight operations, a recently approved expansion of the airport’s taxiway is not related to its traffic level, county spokesman Joe Sorenson said. The taxiway project, approved at the Sept. 3 Board of Commissioners meeting, has been in the works since 2017 in order to increase safety for planes taxiing on the ground. The taxiway also will be widened so planes do not have to cross the runway. The Federal Aviation Administration is footing most of the bill, providing more than $6.1 million. The Georgia Department of Transportation is providing $399,090 in airport improvement funds, and the county is matching that amount.

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