Burns & McDonnell’s plan for KCI airport meets skepticism, questions

Burns & McDonnell’s unusual proposal to build and privately finance a new single terminal at Kansas City International Airport was greeted with skepticism even as the mayor and city manager touted the plan’s benefits.

“I have lots of questions,” City Councilwoman Katheryn Shields said, echoing concerns from some of her council colleagues about the engineering firm’s idea to privately finance a major airport improvement in exchange for the exclusive right to do the work.

Shields said she had some doubts that a majority of the 13-member council would sign off on an exclusive deal with the engineering firm.

The plan does not call for Burns & McDonnell to pay for the new airport construction, estimated at about $1 billion. The company would line up private financing from lenders and its own pockets and pay those amounts back with airport revenues.

Although the arrangement would not require public approval, Mayor Sly James said, the city will send any proposal to voters in November.

A preliminary memorandum of understanding is expected to go to the City Council on Thursday.

Read more: Kansas City Star, Kansas City Business Journal

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