Is it finally time to scrap the old crescent-shaped terminals at Kansas City International Airport, soon to turn 45 years old, and build anew?
This question, bandied about for nearly a decade, has once again risen as one of the most hotly debated among Kansas City-area residents — pitting those who love the ease and convenience of the airport against others who argue that a city experiencing a building renaissance deserves something new, fresh and without the myriad problems the old airport presents.
In November, Kansas Citians are expected to be able to vote. Burns & McDonnell, the Kansas City-based engineering firm, has floated a proposal to design, finance and build a $1 billion-plus single-terminal airport in the area now occupied by Terminal A, which sits empty.
It’ll be up to voters to determine how pros and cons of new measure up against the pros and cons of old, many of which are well-known.
Pros of old: convenience and inexpensive parking. Cons: old and dark, threadbare shopping and eating choices, limited bathrooms, crowded gates, diffuse security, difficult maneuvering for bigger planes on KCI’s outside apron, crumbling infrastructure.
Pros of new: Gleaming new two-story terminal with mall-like shopping and restaurants, a new 6,500-spot parking garage, better maneuverability for large aircraft, streamlined security and no new taxes to pay for construction. Cons: cost of parking likely to rise an average of $1; cost of goods and food in airport shops also would go up.
Prime con, according to airport backers: It’s not familiar to Kansas Citians who like what they like.