Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star has been covering the potential overhaul of KCI. KCUR’s Susan Wilson sat down with Helling and had these four takeaways:
1. Taxpayers will not bear the weight of the $1.2 billion price tag.
The cost will not include general taxpayer dollars. It would be paid for by added fees for airlines, higher ticket and parking prices, taxes on food and drink at the airport, and possibly federal funding and state support. The Federal Aviation Administration probably won't offer much financial support; the FAA has about $3.35 billion to assist with improvement projects at airports across the United States. But under direction from Congress, most of that money is to be used for smaller airports.
2. Options aren't limited to spending nothing and spending $1.2 billion.
There is room for compromise beyond a single or three terminal plan that would be on a smaller scale with a smaller price tag. One possible plan is to keep two terminals, centralize security and use people movers to connect the two terminals more easily. Another possibility is to have a single terminal that maintains the current horseshoe configuration. But, we’re years away from a final design.
3. This is year two of about a 10 year project.
Before construction can begin, there must be federal and airline approval, environmental studies and perhaps a public vote from Kansas City, Mo. residents in 2014. Based on improvements done to other airports like Philadelphia, Atlanta or Birmingham, this process could take between eight and 10 years.
4. U.S. Rep. Sam Graves is opposed to a single-terminal plan.
It is unusual for a local member of Congress to oppose an airport project. His opposition will make the task more difficult for people wanting to put this to a vote. Right now, Graves is the leading politician on the federal level involved in this debate.