Archive for Thursday, January 21, 2016

Kansas City International Airport expansion plan gets new look from architects

January 21, 2016

KANSAS CITY, MO. — An architecture firm is offering a compromise plan for renovating and expanding the Kansas City International Airport.

City and aviation officials have been discussing for more than four years a controversial plan to demolish the airport and replace it with a single terminal. Some citizens want to keep the current three-terminal design.

At the urging of Kansas City Councilwoman Teresa Loar, Crawford Architects of Kansas City worked with national aviation and design firms on a new plan to keep the existing layout but expand Terminal A to include better security checkpoints, three baggage reclaim areas, retail and concession areas, 18 or 19 more gates and more parking. Similar work would be done at Terminal B in the future.

The estimated cost is $335.6 million, significantly cheaper than the $964 million to $1.6 billion estimates for either the new single terminal plan or a complete reconstruction of the current airport. The estimate includes paying for deferred maintenance and fixing the terminal's de-icing equipment, The Kansas City Star reported.

"This is a more judicious look at what we actually need to operate an airport of this size. But we get to keep all the good stuff and fix all the bad stuff," said Stacey Jones, owner of Crawford Architects.

Crawford worked on the proposal with engineering firms in Kansas City and global aviation specialists from San Francisco, London, Dallas and Denver.

"I think it's a really good, sound idea," said Dan Coffey, who led a citizens' petition drive to ensure Kansas City residents vote on any major airport improvements.

However, John Fierro, a member of a citizens' task force who examined airport improvement options, said he still prefers building a new terminal for job creation and for "really positioning us for the future."

The assessment from the consulting firm AvAirPros, which is working with the airlines at KCI, should be available for the City Council's Aviation Committee meeting on Feb. 2, said Patrick Klein, assistant city manager who is the city's liaison on airport improvements.

Klein said if the proposal is viable, it could save money for the airlines and their passengers, Klein said.

A study group representing the city's aviation department and airlines is expected to make a recommendation on the airport's future by May. The City Council must approve any plan, and Kansas City residents will vote on terminal improvement financing and construction.

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