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I was able to attend Congressman Sam Graves’ KCI forum in Riverside on Monday. It was standing room only and those there were overwhelmingly opposed to the single-terminal proposal. No surprise. It was not a surprise to see most of the local print and TV news media there. Nor was it a surprise sadly, to see that the Star chose to lead with a pro-single-terminal sales piece from HNTB rather than the solid news piece from the event prepared by Dave Helling.

HNTB is an excellent KC firm and I’m glad they got the $900 million San Diego terminal job. But when the story is nothing but a presentation from their director of aviation archtecture who would love to earn a similar gig and paycheck from KCI, I have to ask if the timing of the story is “just a coincidence.”

Now San Diego is the latest “model” for us in the seemingly endless airport envy parade (cue Indy, Denver, Sacramento.) Obviously, in spite of our wonderfully mild summer, we are not San Diego. We handle half the traffic they do and they are projecting dramatic growth while there are many concerns surrounding KCI’s future traffic. That said, San Diego spent $900 million and added only 10 gates. Then again, the Aviation Department here is proposing $1.2 billion to cut our gates in half so maybe San Diego got a pretty good deal.

It took four years for San Diego to build their terminal or as one article from San Diego put it:

Years of detours and what seemed like endless construction will soon be over as the new Terminal 2 at Lindbergh Field is nearly ready to open. For the last four years, passengers arriving and departing San Diego’s international airport have had to deal with traffic and construction congestion, but all that is about to change.

Gee, that sounds like fun. More interesting though was this:

there was no major addition of space or remodeling performed at Lindbergh Field’s cramped and original terminal, which dates to 1967. That’s despite the fact that Terminal 1 is by far the airport’s busiest hub. It handled 9.4 million passengers last year, compared with the 7.1 million that passed through Terminal 2, according to airport figures.

Arrow points to the 10 new gates for $900 million.

Arrow points to the 10 new gates for $900 million.

So San Diego has two terminals connected by long walkways. And after nearly a billion dollars, their main domestic terminal still stands unimproved from 1967. KCI of course, is only a few years younger but has been continuously upgraded including a major renovation 10 years ago that maintained its signature convenience and more recent additions of restaurants past security and walkways connecting secured areas.

Yet even more interesting was this:

Airport officials are under pressure, however, to make some kind of Terminal 1 revamp. Even with the Green Build [Terminal 2], Lindbergh Field will only serve the region’s growing air travel needs into roughly the 2020s.

So they are a billion in with a solution that will only last 10 years?

Once again, another model that is not one we want to copy.