Mayor Sly James went from despair to elation in just three days this week, and many Kansas Citians went along for the ride.
▪ On Tuesday, a nearly $1 billion project blew up in his face. The mayor decided to pull the plug on trying to quickly build a new, single terminal at Kansas City International Airport.
James held a depressing press conference at City Hall to announce that he was hitting the “pause” button on asking the public to pass bonds to build the terminal. It would have been completed by 2022.
Alas, many Kansas Citians who had been waiting for City Hall to take the lead in constructing a more modern airport got the bad news that their wait will be even longer.
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Kansas Citians who have been working to push the city ahead on public transit matters also will applaud the opening of the system.
(And here’s a video of what it’s like to ride behind the streetcar along Main Street to the River Market.)
The premature death of the KCI question was a crushing blow for the mayor and his administration. They have been working on trying to get the issue to voters for at least three years.
But James and others recently got the results of a poll that showed a large majority of Kansas Citians would not back the bonds. Even larger number love the aging, convenient, functional dump that is KCI.
Despite what the airlines want, which is a new terminal, and despite their willingness to help pay for it without taxpayer funds, James saw a political dead end ahead for now.
If James’ week had ended there, that would have put a big dent in his momentum to help build a better city.
By lucky coincidence, however, the streetcar gala many weeks ago had been scheduled for First Fridays in May.
Given the high level of excitement for the project, James no doubt will revel in the moment. He deserves to do so, given his strong support for it.
As for Kansas Citians, the ones who are glad the KCI question has been sidelined for now can join those who are giddy over the streetcar opening.
There, everyone’s happy. Well, at least lots of people are.