Gwinnett’s Briscoe Field

Arguments for and against privatizing general aviation
A bold plan to privatize general aviation at Gwinnett’s Briscoe Field, enabling flights by commercial airlines, has sparked hot debate. The county board of commissioners is deciding whether to proceed. Here, two opposing factions sound off.
JIMMY NORTON, Snellville resident, pilot, current appointee to the Grayson and Snellville development authorities and the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame board, and founding member of Fly Gwinnett Forward.

> If you open up a pathway from your city to another destination, it’s just like Lewis and Clark. You’re opening up a trade route, and there’s a money conduit there that flows.

> Privatization is huge. You’re taking taxpayer money out of the scheme, you’re injecting somebody else’s money. So
they go deep six? They [will have] built the infrastructure out. It’s like, hey, you get it
for free!

> Stop and think about this: Barrow County’s right over there? Get out 316, take a right? The impact can ripple out.

> What would be proposed would be less [decibels] than what’s already operating out
of here.

> If you look at what’s underneath [the proposed paths], there’s not anything that would be impacted. And with regional jet aircraft, they climb so quickly, they’re out of here before you know it. One of the things that we find ironic: In Lawrenceville you’ve got trains coming by. If CSX said, “We’re going to add two more trains a day, that are going to cause a traffic jam, and blare their horns at 100-whatever decibels,” I don’t think anybody would raise an eyebrow.


JIM REGAN, Lawrenceville resident, accountant, and founding member of Citizens for a Better Gwinnett, whose house was under the traffic pattern when Briscoe expansion was proposed before, fifteen years ago.

> They’ve not produced one study, one fact, that supports that having an airport near the city of Lawrenceville can be good for the area. Propeller Investments [one of the interested companies] made the claim that this was going to be a $1.2 billion impact, and it was going to create 20,000 jobs. [Regan claims they based this on Hartsfield’s impact per gate times ten, the number of proposed terminals for Briscoe.] You can’t make that correlation.

> The proponents have said, “Oh, the airplanes we’re talking about are going to be quieter than the corporate jets.” Well, I’ve flown on a lot of regional jets; I’ve flown on a lot of 737s and Airbus 320s, as well as a lot of Cessna 172s and Cessna 152s. Believe me, a jet is much louder than a Cessna 172.

> [Gwinnett is] probably going to have to do road improvements on 316 and other areas. Chances are, we’re going to have to acquire some houses, because the noise is going to be so high . . . Lawrenceville has said they’re going to challenge this legally [if passed].

> If [the winning bidder] fails, the county is obligated to maintain the operation of the airport.

Photograph by puuikibeach, of Flickr
Amanda Heckert is our senior editor.
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