$1.5B airport terminal opens in Kansas City, Missouri

Dive Brief:

  • Flights began departing from Kansas City International Airport’s new $1.5 billion terminal late last month after six years of work, marking the completion of the largest infrastructure project in Kansas City, Missouri’s, history.
  • Bethesda, Maryland-based Clark Construction built the 1 million-square-foot terminal in a joint venture with Des Moines, Iowa-based Weitz Co. and Kansas City, Missouri-based Clarkson Construction Co. Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate, owned by Clark Construction, was the project developer. 
  • The new facility replaces existing terminal buildings that were built in the ‘70s and has two levels, one for departures and one for arrivals. The terminal is designed to be adaptable, with flexible security checkpoints and 39 gates that have the capability to expand to 50 gates in the future.

Dive Insight:

The new facility includes a range of features focused on accessibility such as an airplane simulation room for anxious travelers, a sensory room, a quiet room, indoor and outdoor pet relief areas, a family play zone and glass boarding bridges, as well as about 50 shops and restaurants. The project also entailed building a new 6,200-space parking structure, landside and airside improvements and a utility plant.

With a range of sustainable features, the new terminal achieved LEED-Gold certification. They include locally sourced materials, electric vehicle charging stations, smart building systems, efficient lighting and improved air quality. The build expands KCI’s passenger capacity from about 30,000 passengers a day to more than 50,000, Justin Meyer, deputy director of the Kansas City Aviation Department, told the Kansas City Beacon.

According to Clark Construction, the project generated more than 6,500 design- and construction-related jobs. Clark Construction also claims it achieved 25.4% MBE and 18.7% WBE participation for construction services as well as 20.5% MBE and 16.4% WBE participation for professional services. 

However, the Federal Aviation Administration is probing whether the project actually met its diversity goals. In February 2022, the FAA’s civil rights office called out Kansas City, Missouri, officials for failing to track minority and women-owned business participation in the project, and for not reporting a civil rights and retaliation complaint by a woman-owned contractor who was initially accepted, but then rejected, to work on the project. Neither Kansas City officials, Clark Construction nor the FAA responded to Construction Dive’s request for comment as of publication time.

The project has seen other controversies as well. After voters approved it in 2017, the build expanded in scope and ended up costing $500 million more than initially anticipated. There was also scandal around the process by which the developer was selected that resulted in a $62 million legal settlement, per reporting from the Kansas City Star.

Additional funding on the way

More funding for airport projects across the country is in the pipeline: The White House on Feb. 27 announced nearly $1 billion in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding for 99 airport projects across the country, including five in Kansas. 

This federal money comes in the form of competitive grants for development projects that address aging airport infrastructure, and can include efforts to build safe, sustainable and accessible airport terminals, on-airport rail access projects, airport traffic control towers and multimodal development.

The recently announced Kansas airport awards include:

  • $1.9 million for the Topeka Regional Airport. 
  • $1.1 million for the Lawrence Regional Airport. 
  • $36,000 for the Augusta Municipal Airport. 
  • $7.3 million for the Dodge City Regional Airport.
  • $3.8 million for the Philip Billard Municipal Airport. 
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