Marietta's Dobbins Air Reserve Base could be getting a whole lot more traffic due to a provision tucked into Congress’ new defense policy bill.
Language in the annual Pentagon policy legislation authored by Georgia lawmakers could open up Dobbins to cargo and other non-commercial flights for the first time in decades.
The legislation would reclassify Dobbins’ runway and tower for “joint use," reversing a 28-year-old provision that's limited usage of the facilities to the Defense Department and Lockheed Martin.
Proponents say the change could open up the base to public-private contracts for things like cargo planes. Companies could sign agreements with the Pentagon, paying user fees that would go to the base and help offset operating costs.
Local members of the congressional delegation said the old classification was outdated and that opening up Dobbins would allow the base to be utilized to its full potential.
Dobbins "is prime real-estate for research development, transportation, and disaster relief services. With the support of the Air Force, Lockheed, and the local community, the door is now open for the continued growth and expansion of Dobbins ARB and Cobb County," said Cassville GOP Congressman Barry Loudermilk, whose 11th Congressional District includes Dobbins.
Georgia Republicans David Perdue, along with Johnny Isakson, helped shepherd the language through the Senate and into the final bill.
The House passed the measure this week. The Senate is expected to clear the same bill after Thanksgiving, sending it to the president's desk.