ATL Quickly Running Out Of Space To Grow
US Secretary of
Transportation Mary E. Peters told community leaders in
Atlanta, GA they should strongly consider a second airport --
before putting up $1 million for the study.
Peters (right) traveled to Hartsfield-Jackson International
Airport Tuesday to announce her decision. She believes by 2025
airports in Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas and San Diego could be
overwhelmed by passenger demand, according to the Atlanta
"Now is the time for Atlanta to consider having multiple
commercial airports," she said.
Airport General Manager Ben DeCosta agreed the time is right for
the metro area to take a serious look the possibility of a second
airport to supplement ATL, considered the worlds busiest with about
85 million passengers going through the facility each year.
The City of Atlanta purchased tracts of about 10,000 acres in
Dawson and Paulding counties in the 1970s for a possible second
airport. It is not immediately known if those properties could be
considered in the study.
According to DeCosta, officials will use the grant to study all
options of increasing ATL's capacity, and acknowledges the
airport's 4,750-acre site is quickly running out of space. The
field's fifth runway -- just a year old -- passes over I-285.
"You can get capacity without a second airport, but the most
straight-forward way to get it is a second airport," DeCosta said.
"I don't want to get into specifics, but a study would include the
option of a second airport."
DeCosta estimates ATL will reach
maximum capacity in little more than a decade as the airport's
passenger load is growing at about 3 percent per year.
A new airport could be functional by 2020 or so -- provided all
the pieces to the rather complex puzzle fall into place, he
Those puzzle pieces include approval from local governments and
major airlines and there's no guarantee the study will lead to a
second airport as there mere mention of such a thing invites
Georgia state transportation officials proposed expanding a
small airport -- such as Briscoe Field in Gwinnett County or Cobb
County's McCollum Field -- in the 1990s into a reliever airport for
ATL. Those ideas were shouted down in public forums, however, by
residents concerned about noise.