Update On New Airport Terminal Construction From Project Representatives
By Samuel Ast
During last week’s Airport Committee meeting, some members of the Kansas City Council took in a presentation updating them on the progress of the KCI single-terminal project, which broke ground late this past March after it was approved by voters in 2017. Local lawmakers received an update on what to expect for the next 12 months as it relates to infrastructure, traffic, and parking.
The committee, chaired by mayoral candidate and councilwoman Jolie Justus, heard from an Edgemoor project representative and a local Aviation Department official about the upcoming parking changes, traffic reversals, and utility relocations necessary for this $1.5 billion task. Just this past week, two parking lots–E1 and E2– have been closed at the airport in what is only the beginning of a construction process estimated to last four years and employ up to 5,000 workers in order to build an airport that will create an estimated 1,500 permanent jobs.
It is in June that terminal traffic will be reversed while existing underground utilities are relocated. Demolition of Terminal A is expected to commence before the end of May. Inbound and outbound flights will continue during the duration of the project with aircraft and travelers utilizing the old B and C terminals. Construction on the new main terminal will start in mid-September of 2019.
Communicating these changes to the public is an incredibly important task. Councilwoman Justus mentioned during the committee meeting just how important she thinks it is to message these changes to the public in a clear and concise way. Councilman Reed, also on the committee, agreed.
“I went to my cell phone here, and was looking at the ‘flykci’ website…. there’s no reference on that link that mentions these major changes to the parking,” Reed said, and he’s right. Reed is particularly concerned about what he calls “long-term parkers,” those in the military, frequent flyers, or those on long vacations who might have vehicles located in closing lots. He also remains worried about the absence and accessibility of information on websites like flykci.com and buildkci.com, which are currently used to update the public on all airport-related matters.
Justin Meyer, Deputy Director of the Aviation Department, is in charge of marketing these traffic and parking changes to the general public, and responded to Councilman Reed’s concerns.
“The ‘buildkci.com’ website is really reflective of the new terminal,” and was meant to advertise the terminal rather than update the public on any specific parking changes. Meyer says that the “page is still being developed in order to have the guts that it needs to have,” and that it will be finalized, or “built out,” later this month, possibly creating another resource for residents who would like to stay in the loop.
Later in the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, councilman Reed doubled-down on his earlier point. “You wanna be able to make sure people know that they have the information” and are not inconvenienced when attempting to fly, the councilman says.
Aside from traffic and parking changes, councilmembers like Reed and Justus also wanted to hear from the project representatives about workforce development and minority participation.
“We have recently awarded our compliance and monitoring contract,” Edgemoor representative Dan Moynihan told the committee, adding that the company would be making a public announcement of which firm they have selected within a week. Edgemoor has promised to provide concrete data to the committee at their next meeting concerning project hiring, participation figures.
The Clark, Weitz, and Clarkson construction company website says that their “Community Benefits Agreement contains services and programs that support the workforce, build capacity in small, local businesses, and strengthen the Kansas City community.”
“I’ve got about 83 days left here,” said Reed, referring to the remaining tenure of the current council and its oversight role. “Eighty-three days, 13 hours, and 14 minutes,” corrects outgoing mayor Sly James, to laughter.
On June 6, the committee will discuss art and solar energy at the new terminal, and on July 11 the committee is expecting a design update. The airport committee meets next on May 23. The new terminal is projected to open in November 2022.