Sleepless Or Desperate In Memphis
April 24, 2017
I must admit that I have been sleepless since reading about the Airport expansion and the Pop-Up Park project reported recently in the CA.
As a taxpayer, the Airport Authority and the Riverfront Development Corporation are two of my least favorite organizations.
First the Airport Authority. This is a big time operation in terms of expenditures but look at the results.
In the year 2000 we had 10.6 million total passengers. In 2007 we had about the same numbers of total passengers. In 2013 we had 5.5 million passengers. Yet in 2001 they were planning the three story parking garage addition. In 2007 they stated in the CAFR that the new garage would proceed at a cost of $70 million dollars. Forward to 2009 and read the Memphis Business Journal article about the new $150 million dollar parking garage. Where did the money come from? $20 million from the Federal Aviation Administration, $50 million from the Tennessee Department of Transportation with the remainder in airport authority bonds. Get the picture. The Federal and State money is free money (it really is taxpayer money) and must be spent regardless of the benefits of the investment.
Then in 2014 here is what was reported.
Memphis International Airport lashed back Thursday at last year’s de-hubbing by
Delta Air Lines with a $114 million plan to shrink the facility but improve the
experience for airlines and passengers.
Airport managers presented plans to spend $3 million tearing down a fourth of the
gates and $111 million upgrading much of what remains. They propose to consolidate activity into a refurbished and expanded B Concourse, mothball remaining gates in the other two terminals and leave ticket lobbies and the front of the airport unchanged.
Now we read the following.
Airport unveils $214 million plan
Memphis International Airport proposes to spend $214 million over five years on a transformative project that will build all-new passenger facilities in the airport’s oldest concourse.
Airport officials on Thursday unveiled a redesign of a three-year-old preliminary concept for B Concourse modernization and said the price tag is up about $100 million from what was previously estimated.
Airport president Scott Brockman said the new number is “all-in,” including non-construction costs and improvements that will help minimize impact on passengers when the B Concourse is shut down for reconstruction in 2018.
The modernization, which should begin in early 2018, will focus on expanding a majority of the B Concourse’s gates, leaving one section the same size but updated. It will literally raise the roof and blow out the exterior walls on the reconstructed sections, increasing ceiling height to 14 to 19 feet from nine feet and widening the concourse by about 30 to 40 feet.
If anyone can make sense of all these expenditures and where we are heading, please let me know.
It seems to me what we need is lower fares combines with direct flights from Memphis to desirable locations. Recently some of my family went to Mexico for spring break. They drove to Nashville to get lower fares and direct flights. Go figure.
Considering the size of the Airport expenditures the Pop-Up Park project seems insignificant by the Riverfront Development Corporation. They want to keep their jobs at RDC and they have to come up with ideas to keep themselves relevant. Put down some basketball courts and a skating rink and then take it back up when Memphis in May is over.
What are your thoughts about these projects? I would love to hear from you.