The city of Atlanta, Ga., is moving forward with a plan to revamp aging parking decks at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport's domestic terminal, with work beginning this spring, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported recently.
The airport is seeking the Atlanta City Council's approval for a contract with the joint-venture group Holder-Austin-Moody-Bryson, based in College Park, Ga., to build the south parking deck of the 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 newspaper noted March 3.
The renovation is the latest airport construction effort to likely 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.
A first 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. Following that, a similar revamp will be done on the north deck. Shoring up the decks will allow them to continue to be partially used before they are eventually demolished in stages.
"We've had to do this in phases to allow for ongoing access to parking on airport," Hartsfield-Jackson Senior Deputy General Manager Michael Smith told the Journal-Constitution.
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, both connected to the domestic terminal via free SkyTrain service — to expand and replace parking options while the north and south decks are under construction.
However, the remote lots are not as convenient for travelers as the north and south daily and hourly decks that are just a short walk from the terminal.
Parking a Key Source of Airport Revenue
Hartsfield-Jackson has waffled on parking deck construction, the Atlanta news source said, 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 and come with an estimated price tag of $550 million to $750 million in 2014 dollars.
With the increasing popularity of the Uber and Lyft car services among passengers, the demand for parking at the airport has decreased, thus cutting into a major source of the facility's revenue.
The prospect of self-driving cars has raised the possibility that parking demand could fall even further in future years. The result of that led to the project being 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 told the Journal-Constitution that Hartsfield-Jackson parking revenue had taken even more of a drop, and the airport would rethink the parking deck reconstruction plan, including looking at renovating the current decks to extend their use.
Taking everything into consideration, Balram Bheodari, the Atlanta airport's current manager, has decided to execute the latest plan to shore up the existing parking decks and rebuild them, despite competition from alternatives.
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