Planners consider site for all-in-one Kansas City International terminal

Friday, October 19, 2012 | 4:19 p.m. CDT

KANSAS CITY — Officials looking into transforming Kansas City International Airport are reaching consensus on the best place to locate an all-in-one terminal to replace the current three-terminal configuration.

Aviation Director Mark VanLoh updated City Council members Thursday on the results of months of studies and planning. The Kansas City Star reported that the preferred choice is to build a new terminal where the existing Terminal A is located.

The final recommendation isn't expected until January. Even then, the Federal Aviation Administration and the City Council would need to sign off.

The current terminal design is praised for its convenience, and many Kansas City residents don't want it changed. But VanLoh and other aviation officials say the three terminals, built in the early 1970s, are hopelessly outdated in terms of security configuration and technology.

VanLoh said the final design, which is at least 18 months away, likely would include convenient features such as movable walkways and a centralized, multi-story parking garage adjacent to the terminal.

The project is expected to cost $1.2 billion, creating 1,800 construction jobs. It would be paid for by the airlines, the federal government, and taxes and fees imposed on airline customers — not general taxpayer dollars. If all goes as planned, construction could start in late 2014 and be finished in about two years.

A year ago, planners were leaning toward building a new terminal on vacant land south of the existing airport. The site would have been much closer to most Kansas City area travelers, and locating it there would have avoided the need to disrupt the existing three terminals during construction.

But the site would have required new highways, which could have cost the Missouri Department of Transportation $500 million.

Terminal A then became the top choice because of its proximity to the main runway, the fuel farm, the cargo facility and the deicer area.

In the near term, VanLoh said the existing Terminal A will continue to serve US Airways and United, and Terminal C gates previously used by Continental will be moved into Terminal A before the end of this year. That will allow the Aviation Department to do a modest renovation of Terminal C, which also serves international flights. If the plan is approved, all airlines will work out of Terminals B and C while Terminal A is rebuilt.

Once the new terminal opened, VanLoh said Terminal B would be torn down and Terminal C could be leased as office space with plenty of nearby parking.

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