Federal government could help with KCI upgrades

Posted at 1:09 PM, Jan 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-26 14:09:06-05

Potential upgrades at the Kansas City International Airport have been a hot topic for months. After the city temporarily backed off a push to improve the airport, a new report says the federal government could be stepping in.

Kansas City's director of aviation addressed the city council airport committee on upgrades needed at KCI.

Patrick Klein said they've seen 32 straight months of growth, and 11 million passengers went through the airport in 2016.  It's widely known among city leaders and citizens who've complained that KCI needs major upgrades to handle the growth.

That's exactly why KCI ended up on a document from President Trump's transition team listing the top 50 infrastructure projects in the nation.

It's just a draft at this point, and the White House hasn't issued a final list yet, nor have they said how they'd fund the 50 projects. KCI is the only terminal upgrade project on the list.

Klein said it's not surprising KCI would be on such a list.  Whether to rebuild or renovate has had the city in a debate for years.

The Kansas City Aviation Department saw the list a couple weeks ago. Klein said he knew it came from D.C.,  but wasn't sure who started circulating it.

"The list we saw just mentioned that our project was helped by the airlines, saying they wanted to fund our project. It didn't mention more federal dollars, so if the federal government wants to give us project dollars then of course we would take those," Klein told us.

That's why Klein said the Aviation Department isn't depending on Trump's list yet. KCI's partnership is largely with the airlines, who are pushing for a new, single-terminal airport.

"Right now, the current funding financing plan that we presented to city council last April only had about $60 million over the life of the terminal, so we didn't really count on a lot of federal funding because we knew we could make the process work with the airline partners we had," Klein said.

KCI and American Airlines are partnering to complete a holding room expansion project. The three small holding rooms would be consolidated into one big holding room.

Klein said larger planes and larger flights means less room in holding rooms, crowded bathrooms and concessions.

Federal funding would be "icing on the cake," he added.



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