Superior Rigging aids concourse expansion at world’s busiest airport

In 2023, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport hosted over 104 million passengers, continuing to live up to its reputation as the world’s busiest travel hubs. Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens has described the airport’s impressive performance as “a testament to the city’s resilience and the pivotal role the airport plays in the economic recovery of Atlanta.”

Superior is tasked with erecting 10 modules for the Concourse D expansion project in Atlanta. Nearly 50 employees are assisting across the jobsites.

Alongside the monumental foot traffic, there is also a vast amount of construction underway at the airport. Atlanta-based Superior Rigging & Erection is working on three to six projects at the airport at any given time. This ranges from steel erection, crane rental, rigging and warehousing. Most notably, Superior has been assisting with the Concourse D expansion, the Concourse E extension, the plane train and miscellaneous crane and rigging work such as setting generators, electrical units, curbs and more.

Erection and expansion

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which is a hub for Delta Airlines, needed to expand Concourse D, but required a solution that would impact Delta as little as possible. After many years of engineering and design, a plan was developed to expand the concourse by building modules. These modules are built off site located over a mile away, but the site is still on airport grounds. After the modules are built, they are set to be loaded, secured and transported across the secured airport runways on SPMT trailers in the middle of the night. Each one-mile move is expected to take one hour.

After the modules are built, they will be loaded, secured and transported across secured airport runways on SPMTs in the middle of the night.

Superior Rigging & Erecting is responsible for erecting the 10 modules. The company started the modules in October 2023, and have finished the first five. The first module move across the runways was set for late April.

Once the modules are moved into location along the exterior of Concourse D, Superior will connect them to the existing structure sitting approximately 3 feet away and then fill the 3-foot gap with steel framing. Superior is also performing rigging work for the Concourse D expansion, which includes air handling units and curbs for the expansion.

With any airport project, the team must follow strict protocol when bringing manpower, equipment and cranes on site. The transportation and installation of the modules airside will see the greatest impact as Superior must go through the runways in the middle of the night. Weather is always a concern. If planes get delayed late into the night, it could also impact the transportation schedule.

“Superior Rigging & Erecting is proud to continue our longstanding work and relationships with Hartsfield Jackson International Airport and our partners at HAMB (Joint Venture CM Team), led by Holder Construction,” said Zach Olsen, chief operating officer. “The growth of Superior is closely tied with the growth of the Atlanta airport over the course of the last 70 years. The Concourse D Widening Project is unique in regard to the extent HAMB is modularizing and prefabricating the structure and the majority of the buildout. Superior takes great pride in our ability to provide a high level of service on challenging and atypical projects.”

Once the modules are moved into location along the exterior of Concourse D, Superior will connect them to the existing structure sitting approximately 3 feet away and then fill the 3-foot gap with steel framing.

A team effort

A diverse fleet of equipment has been utilized by Superior to achieve success on this expansion project. A partner on the project is Mammoet, which is providing transportation equipment, including a Module-Transporter (SPMT) with a payload of 316,580 pounds and a 300-ton capacity jack climbing double. Superior has two crawler cranes on the jobsite, a Link-Belt LS-218H and a 248-Hylab-5.

A Link-Belt RTC-80100-II is being used airside to connect the modules to Concourse D. An 80-ton Rigger Special forklift is offloading steel as it arrives so that Superior can keep their crawlers working. The team also reconfigured the LS-218 crawler crane to pick 65,000 pounds to assist Mammoet in putting the SPMT trailer together for the first test lift and transport.

Superior has been assisting with the Concourse D expansion, the Concourse E extension, the plane train and miscellaneous crane and rigging work such as setting generators, electrical units, curbs and more.

Mayor Dickens recently spoke with President Joe Biden about the Atlanta airport project at the White House. The mayor walked him through the expansion construction and used a model size Mammoet SPMT trailer to portray the concourse move. This expansion is funded by the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress and signed by President Biden in 2021.

“This thing here [SPMT] allows us to build it a mile away and then transport it in – in millimeter-like precision,” said Dickens. “It’s called an SPMT, which is a self-propelled modular transport unit. So, a big section of our airport is built offsite, and we roll it in here overnight. And that way we can keep people working, keep the airport flowing and still be able to expand this concourse.”

The concourse project is expected to be completed in February of 2027.

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