More congestion coming to Hartsfield-Jackson curbside amid construction


Travelers headed to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport could encounter more congestion at the terminal curbside, as the airport steps up construction of massive canopies outside the terminal.

The airport will close the Terminal North upper roadway at 9 p.m. Monday evening until Tuesday morning at 5 a.m. The lower roadway will be open during that time.

And starting Sunday, the airport will begin "substantial canopy construction" on the Terminal North roads, which will disrupt traffic every night from around 9 or 10 p.m. until 4:30 or 5 a.m.. During this next phase of construction, the entire Terminal North upper roadway may be closed during overnight periods.

That will squeeze more vehicle traffic into less space at the world's busiest airport.

The airport recommends that during this construction, travelers allow an extra half hour to get through the airport.

Hartsfield-Jackson now advises domestic travelers get to the airport 2.5 hours before their departure time, and for international travelers to arrive 3 hours before their flight.

Every domestic airline at Hartsfield-Jackson other than Delta Air Lines operates out of Terminal North, while Delta operates out of Terminal South. The airport started canopy construction at Terminal North last fall a few weeks before it launched construction of the canopy over Terminal South. Work on the canopies is expected to continue until early 2019, a high-profile project in Hartsfield-Jackson's $6 billion plan to expand and modernize the airport.

During the next phase of construction, vehicles will not be allowed to wait at the curbside for passengers, with traffic enforcement officers enforcing the rule allowing only "active loading and unloading," according to the airport.

"We expect there may be challenges in the first few days of these closures," said Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Andrew Gobeil. "But we will collect data and address any of these challenges and make sure they’re reconciled."

Travelers who would normally use Terminal North roads "should seek alternate options," according to the airport, which recommends those passengers take MARTA to the airport or considering being picked up or dropped off at the international terminal.

While some travelers may opt to be dropped off at the domestic Terminal South curbside, a large share of traffic migrating from Terminal North to Terminal South could cause congestion and frustration for those travelers at Terminal South.

"The suggested alternatives that we have come up with we feel will mitigate the traffic issues due to the closures," Gobeil said. "We have studied traffic mitigation plans for months leading up to this... We're a fully functional airport and we don't want to impede operations."

The international terminal is less crowded, but has check-in counters for international flights and not all carriers have check-in counters there. There is a terminal-to-terminal shuttle that carries passengers between the international terminal and the domestic terminal.

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