Challenges to new KCI plan are latest issues in bumpy journey to renovation

The path to a potential November vote over renovating Kansas City International Airport has taken six years to navigate and been marked by numerous hurdles and stumbles for city and airport leaders.

Bungling of access road plans, misplaced fears that the current KCI was vulnerable to a terrorist attack and other concerns have all factored into the glacial pace of efforts to renovate or replace the airport, which was built in 1972.

Perhaps most problematic has been the failure of city leaders to counter misinformation about how an airport renovation would be funded. Previous plans called for work on the airport to be funded by aviation bonds, which would be paid for by fees on airlines and travelers. But there was never any large campaign to publicize the fact that taxpayers would not be on the hook for those bonds.

The latest plan, which calls for a new terminal to be privately financed and built, sought to address concerns raised by those public aviation bonds. However, the latest push has been beset by its own issues: Mayor Sly James initially said Burns & McDonnell, the Kansas City-based engineering firm, was the only company with a plan for the renovation, but other firms soon expressed interest in the project. The city then decided to solicit proposals from other vendors but allow Burns & McDonnell to match the best one, but it quickly altered that plan over fear of lawsuits.

Now, the city and airport await two big August deadlines: On Aug. 10, final proposals are due from prospective contractors; and by Aug. 24, the city council must pick one plan to appear on the city’s November ballot.

Read more: Kansas City Star


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