ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Federal officials announced Thursday that $40 million in improvements are coming to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
The money will be used to upgrade and expand the airport’s 40-year-old Concourse D.
“Hartsfield-Jackson is one of the world’s great airports, and it’s been a gateway to America for a long time,” Mitch Landrieu, senior advisor and infrastructure coordinator to President Joe Biden, told CBS46. “It’s critical to the nation’s economy and the business community.”
Landrieu said the money will be used to widen, update and modernize the concourse. Projects include enlarging holding rooms, restrooms and the central corridor; increase the concourse’s capacity; and improve ADA compliance and achieve LEED gold certification.
Landrieu said the projects will create more than 500 construction jobs, and the planned improvements will begin soon.
The federal funding is part of the first installment of $5 billion for airport projects as part of an infrastructure bill that Congress approved, and Biden signed last November.
“Historic upgrades are coming here to Hartsfield Jackson to upgrade the airport experience, to improve the airport’s operating efficiency,” Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff said Thursday morning. Ossoff was joined at the airport by Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and airport general manager Balram Bheodari.
“This $40 million is going to go a long ways to continue to meet and exceed our expectations here at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, for us to continue to be the world’s busiest and most efficient airport right here in Atlanta.” Dickens said.
What makes this different is federal funds have always gone toward runways and towers. Typically, terminal upgrades are funded by fees that travelers pay with every ticket they purchase.
“When we wrote the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, we included a new airport terminal program, precisely to help fund improvements such as these which don’t just improve the passenger experience, but also the operating efficiency,” Ossoff said.
Nationally, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration is awarding nearly $1 billion from president’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to 85 airports across the country to improve terminals of all sizes.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the projects will help meet future demand for travel and make flying safer and more efficient.
“I don’t think anybody could look at airports across America today and say that the existing system and existing levels of funding have been adequate,” Buttigieg told reporters, according to the Associated Press.
The AP is reporting the largest of the FAA grants include $60 million to improve the terminal and replace the bag-handling system at Denver International Airport; $50 million apiece for Boston’s Logan Airport and Orlando International Airport in Florida; $49.6 million for Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C., to build a new concourse; and $20 million for Pittsburgh International Airport to build a new terminal next to the old one.
The FAA said 532 airports submitted applications for 658 projects that, if all had been granted, would have totaled more than $14 billion.