New underground tunnel to improve train times at airport

ATLANTA — Crews are building a 700-foot tunnel extension to the plane train transportation system at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Officials say it will reduce wait times for arriving travelers and those riding the train out to their departure concourse.

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“The goal is to increase capacity,” said Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Assistant General Manager, Tom Nissalke.

Right now, trains arriving at baggage claim must backup before they can switch over to tracks taking travelers to their concourse.

With the tunnel extension, there is no need to back up.

Trains pull into the added tunnel, and then quickly switch to the outbound tracks. That saves time.

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“These trains are always moving forward. That will allow the time between trains to decrease from 108 seconds to 90 seconds and by doing that during peak periods, instead of ten thousand passengers per hour, that number is twelve thousand. a 20% increase.” said NIssalke.

It took 45,000 pounds of dynamite to remove rock for the tunnel. Construction officials in the terminal were unaware of the blasting, and they used seismic monitoring equipment to check for damage to airport infrastructure.

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“Every time we did a blast, we would be watching our real time data to see what the movements were,” said Clark Construction engineer Gabrielle Ferro.

The $330 million project is funded through airport user fees, the airlines and other funding sources. Airport officials say no tax payer dollars went to the project. It’s expected to be completed in May 2024.

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