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Proposed state oversight of 104 local airports would include Gwinnett’s growing field

Gwinnett County airport Briscoe Field

Gwinnett County Airport - Briscoe Field serves corporate jets destined for metro Atlanta. Credit: GBAA/GDOT

By David Pendered

A pending renewal and expansion on the runway of Gwinnett County’s airport evidently is the type of job that some state lawmakers had in mind when they talked about greater state involvement in local airports. Gwinnett’s airport also highlights the impact of the state’s 104 publicly-owned, public use airports.

Gwinnett County airport Briscoe Field

Gwinnett County Airport – Briscoe Field serves corporate jets destined for metro Atlanta. Credit: GBAA/GDOT

The sector that some lawmakers have expressed interest in exerting greater control is now largely in the hands of local officials. Records of use and economic impact are maintained by the Georgia Department of Transportation, which has a role in local airports as part of the state’s overall transportation system.

Lawmakers did not approve any state oversight of airports, including the main target – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The issue could resurface in the 2020 legislative session.

In the case of Gwinnett County’s Briscoe Field, a proposed state entity would be observing, if not participating in, discussions about the planned rehabilitation and strengthening of the runway, and an expanded taxiway, according to a description of the work by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The project has been in the planning stage for a number of years. The corps released a notice Dec. 4, 2017 saying it had received the county’s formal application to move forward with the project. The corps had to review a variety of issues related to cultural resources and endangered species, according to the corps’ letter.

Meanwhile, the state entity overseeing airports would have to keep up with activities at the other local airports scattered across the state.

GDOT keeps track of public airports and its reports portray a vibrant aviation sector that’s largely off the radar of metro Atlanta residents. Just for starters, the nine commercial service airports and 95 general aviation airports provide an overall value that includes 421,175 jobs, $17.7 billion in payroll, and $62.6 billion in statewide economic impact.

airport economic impact

The proposed state entity to oversee public airports could have a hand in managing facilities that create more than 470,000 and provide an economic impact of nearly $63 billion, according to a GDOT report. Credit: GDOT

Here are some highlights of the airports, excluding Atlanta’s airport, according to a GDOT report:

  • “1.2 million annual boarded passengers;
  • “720,000 commercial service visitors;
  • “1.1 million general aviation visitors;
  • “More than 500 businesses are located on airport property.”

Gwinnett’s airport likely would attract much of the state entity’s attention because of its size and relation to Atlanta’s airport.

Briscoe Field is designated as a reliever to Atlanta’s airport. The facility reportedly did gangbuster business during the recent Super Bowl event in Downtown Atlanta. The state entity likely would pay close attention to ground service operators and other businesses that cater to the corporate crowd.

In terms of economic impact, the facility adds considerably to the economy of its metro community. According to GDOT’s report, a by-the-numbers look at Gwinnett’s airport shows:

  • 730 jobs, defined as a fulltime employee and a part-time employee counts as half a fulltime employee;
  • Total payroll: $26.6 millon, defined as total annual wages and benefits paid to employees whose jobs are directly related to work at the airport;
  • Total economic output: $85.4 million, defined as the value of goods and services related to the airport.

To serve this demand, the Gwinnett County Airport Authority intends to refurbish the runway and add a taxiway to handle the rising number of aircraft that use the field.

At its March 14 meeting, the Gwinnett County Airport Authority voted unanimously, 3-0, to accept state and federal grants that total $4.6 million. The money will help fund construction of the taxiway and related improvements.

Here’s how the Army corps described the planned work:

  • “The proposed project at the Gwinnett County Airport – Briscoe Field would include the rehabilitation of Runway 7/25 and a realignment and extension of Taxiway Y to provide direct access for aircraft from the basing facilities at the northern side of the Airport to the eastern (approach) end of runway 25.
  • The rehabilitation of Runway 7/25 would include crack sealing and full-depth reconstrution of the existing pavement as needed, together wit hteh re-marking of the new pavement. Taxiway Y would be extended by 1,365 feet and would include a connection to the Runway 25 End….”



David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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  1. Darkeyah Reuven April 6, 2019 8:15 am

    The GDOT wants to oversee Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Is that the same GDOT that burned down the 75/85 Highway bridge, and was not held to task by Atlanta’s White Supremacist Media. Oh.. ok this will work great?Report

  2. ATLBooster April 7, 2019 9:11 pm

    This is good. Whatever they can do to get the city of Atlanta and it’s monopoly airport influence out of the state economy will help spur growth. If Delta leaves, so be it. Suntust and att left, and the fact is Atlanta can’t compete with Dallas and Austin anyway. The state has got Columbus, Augusta and Savannah to plan with and they deserve to grow as well.Report

  3. On deck June 15, 2019 10:10 am

    This article gave a lil clarity to why atl metro only has one major airport. BUT every other major city has two airports. Cali , dc, fla, nyc, chi, Houston and Dallas. Philly , i can keep going. Let atl grow its crowded harsfeild is great but it’s too congested.Report

    1. Chris Johnston June 16, 2019 2:29 am

      Metro Atlanta will not have a second commercial airport for one reason: Delta and the City of Atlanta don’t want another.

      The City owns two 10,000 acre land parcels, one in Paulding County and the other in Dawson County, that are intended for additional airports. But the City and Delta do not intend that there be a second airport.Report


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