The Kansas City Council’s Airport Subcommittee has recommended Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate as the developer for a new billion-dollar single terminal at Kansas City International Airport. If the full Council agrees, this would bring to an end the latest chapter of the airport saga, one that Councilman Quinton Lucas referred to as “really weird” and The Kansas City Star editorial board called a “disruptive mess.” Show-Me Institute analysts have been writing about the process since way back in 2013; many would say both Lucas and The Star were being generous in their descriptions.
Four years ago, in our first post on the matter, we detailed the first arguments in favor of such an expense and concluded,
If the Aviation Department and their chorus on the City Council want to tear down a much-loved and nationally recognized airport, the public deserves transparent processes and substantive answers to serious questions regarding the endeavor's necessity.
We’re not sure either obligation has been met satisfactorily. In fact, the past four years may have only decreased confidence among voters in their elected officials. Telling voters they bear no risk in the scheme is different from telling them the scheme is necessary or even worthwhile. Kansas Citians have seen too many so-called genius ideas become fools errands. The rallying cry for new terminal supporters, “build it and they will come,” is more wishful thinking than sound economic planning.
However the full Council votes on the Airport Subcommittee recommendation, voters will be asked to sign off on the project on November 7. We’ll hear a lot about public opinion polling in the meantime. I hope there will be just as much talk about what ought to be done, the likely benefits, and the most cost-effective way to do it.