Fed Judge Gives Trinity River Project Thumbs Up to Proceed

Sat May 29, 2004 - West Edition

DALLAS (AP) A federal judge has lifted a two-year-old injunction that had held up the Dallas Floodway Extension project, which calls for the construction of channels and levees to protect southern Dallas from flooding.

U.S. District Judge Terry Means said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the Trinity River project, had addressed questions on the environmental consequences of the plan.

In his May 5 ruling, Means rejected arguments by environmental groups that the corps had exaggerated flooding dangers to try to justify the $143 million project. The judge compelled the corps to disclose more about the project’s environmental impact.

“This is probably one of the biggest decisions for the project. This is one of the most critical elements of it,” Rebecca Dugger, director of the city’s Trinity River Corridor Project, said in a story in the May 8 edition of The Dallas Morning News.

The floodway expansion will protect thousands of residents and billions of dollars in private and business property in downtown, parts of west Dallas, north Oak Cliff and several other areas, said Jill Jordan, assistant city manager.

“Now we’re ready to begin construction, so this is a big step,” Jordan told The Associated Press.

The Dallas floodway extension project was first authorized by Congress in 1965 but never happened, Jordan said. It was resurrected after serious flooding in the late 1980s. But the court decision announced May 7 clears the way for the project to finally be realized, she said.

Jordan also said the floodway expansion is the first major component of the 1998 bond program.

“We’ve done a couple of boat ramps but those are very small compared to this,” Jordan said.

The project is expected to take about six years.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) said she would do what she could to encourage the corps to begin construction within 60 days.

The fiscal 2005 budget doesn’t contain funding for the project, but Hutchison said she would pursue additional appropriations this year.