Atlanta Airport keeps growing

Got to tour the airport grounds with Hannah Palmer, who’s new book Flight Path details the absorption of small towns like Mountain View. The house-by-house buyout through the early 1970’s cost some $350 million.

The town would be to the far right of this photo, the hotel over the gap in the fences is where the 1960’s space-age terminal sat and the Delta technical control building to the left might be future domestic gates.

As far as the business of the airport, concessions bring in about $600 million a year and parking $150. Parking decks are about to be drastically changed, but I didn’t realize a sizable chunk of them almost became the hold baggage screening facility until they realized they could just put it up against the main terminal where the long berm was just acting as a wearing surface. Constructed from 2004-2008, it’s just to the right of this shot that also shows the new canopy under construction

Innovations that fly under the radar (hah) like the lighting in the parking decks: You can imagine the maintenance of 5,000 light fixtures, a few years ago they had lighting companies fight it out for the longest lasting, brightest technology and ended up with the current LED system that only need to be touched every 5 years.

The Fifth Runway crossing I-285 is just a massive piece of infrastructure

As they reconstruct other runways and taxiways, they cut up the old surface like biscuits in a pan, and run the chunks over to temporary onsite cement plants to be broken up and reconstituted for the new surfaces. They finished one entire runway in 30 days a few years ago! Nothing goes to waste and they make the most of the space. To compare, DFW sits on 18,000 acres and ATL has less than 5,000 and operationally exceeds all of these physically larger airports.

Ms. Palmer also talked about a project to rejuvenate the headwaters of the Flint River with about 2 miles of its course in pipes. This granite outcroping is part of one basin

And to the left is a pipe where potentially the river could be restored to more of its natural course

More about this plan here but it could be something like the new Old Fourth Ward Park combined with the Clear Creek restoration north of Piedmont Park. Pretty exciting stuff!

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