The Buzz

Graves not convinced new terminal is right plan for KCI

File photo by Jill Toyoshiba/Kansas City Star

Supporters of of a plan to build a new airport terminal in Kansas City may still have an important adversary — Rep. Sam Graves.

Kansas City International Airport is part of Graves’ 6th district in Missouri. The Republican has been a vociferous opponent of constructing a new terminal there, opting instead for refurbishing the existing horseshoe configuration.

This week a task force of users and public officials said a new single terminal would be cheaper and better than the current airport.

In a release Thursday, Graves said he wasn’t convinced.

“Kansas City Airport is convenient, safe, and affordable, and I’m worried this plan would jeopardize all of that,” Graves said. “I have been consistently opposed to a single terminal plan, particularly when users rank our airport as one of the most convenient in the country.”

“I am also struggling to believe that renovating the current terminals would be more expensive than building a new, single terminal from scratch,” he said. “There is obviously a need for improvements at a 40-year-old airport, and I am glad the city is having those discussions, but I have yet to hear details that would make me think this proposal is the right one.”

The impact of Graves’ opposition isn’t clear. He could obstruct plans to pay for the improvements with federal funds, but federal money isn’t considered critical in most terminal projects (although federal grants for planning and environmental studies are available.)

He could lead public opposition to a new terminal, which Kansas City voters will have to consider.

At the same time, Graves would likely be reluctant to antagonize Southwest Airlines, which is a key tenant at the airport and an apparent supporter of the new single-terminal approach.