KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City firm Burns & McDonnell will now have to face competition in its plan to build a new single terminal airport in Kansas City.
Mayor Sly James has opened the bidding process to other companies after city council received a letter from Los Angeles-based airport engineering firm AECOM that it wanted in on the opportunity.
FOX 4's Shannon O'Brien was at a 2 p.m. news conference with city officials.
There has been some confusion among folks in Kansas City about what the new airport proposal means. Even though the proposal that the city is considering will be privately funded, the voters will have the last say as to whether the project moves forward.
"The process begins today, bids will be accepted for three weeks and within a week thereafter the city will select a winner for proposals submitted," Mayor James said.
Burns & McDonnell will no longer be handed the opportunity to design, build and finance a new airport in Kansas City, without competition.
Although Mayor James and City Manager Troy Schulte have endorsed the Burns & McDonnell plan, a letter from Los Angeles-based AECOM asking to be considered for the project put those plans on hold.
The city has issued a request for qualifications and proposals, or RFQP.
"We have heard from one firm, we think that there may be other firms that may express an interest, and this is the best way to deal with that issue," Schulte said.
That means that other firms that may want to throw a hat in the ring have until June 20 to get proposals to the city and present in person on June 22, including Burns & McDonnell.
Some in the business community have said that local firms Black and Veatch, HNTB, and BNIM were considering a plan for the airport before Burns & McDonnell swooped in with the privately-funded proposal, so it is a question of whether they will regroup and try to enter the game.
Some city council members say the time frame is too quick and does not allow for proper vetting of the proposals.
"I understand we're moving towards a November election; I think we all would like to see that, but we don't have to put anything on the ballot until August -- I think it's 24th, and so that would give us some time to give us a more open, somewhat extended process," said Katheryn Shields, 4th District At Large.
"I think a lot of people support a new airport idea. I think the question is, how do we get it done in the right way? What I look to today is to see whether this gets us further along that approach. I am concerned it may not do that," said Quinton Lucas, 3rd District At Large.
If another proposal is considered better than the Burns & McDonnell plan, it will have a final opportunity to beat that bid.
There is speculation on behalf of some folks at City Hall that no matter who bids to build the airport, Burns & McDonnell will ultimately get the contract, but that this process could force them to sweeten its deal.
Watch the news conference in full below: