Texas City to Take on $435M Project

Mon April 14, 2008 - West Edition
David H. Recht

The city of Fort Worth, Texas, is planning a bold revitalization of its urban core, headlined by an extensive public works enhancement to the Trinity River, which flows through the city.

The project, boldly labeled the “Trinity River Vision,” plans for an overhaul of the Trinity River, with various elements contributing to an enhancement of the quality of life for citizens and visitors to Fort Worth.

The job can be broken down into two major components: the Central City project and the Trinity Uptown plan.

The Central City Project is based on a “bypass channel” to be built on the Trinity River for flood control purposes.

Construction of the channel will allow for removal of a levee system that was built 70 years ago. In addition, a series of dams will control water levels, such that the river can be utilized for recreational purposes, as well as to promote a varied ecosystem within the limits of the project, according to official city publications.

The Central City project is estimated to cost $435 million, based on a 2005 cost estimate, and including a 20 percent construction contingency, according to the city’s Web site for the project, www.trinityrivervision.org. The project will take 10 years to complete.

The Trinity Uptown Plan is centered on the area immediately to the north (upstream) of downtown Fort Worth. It is based on a large-scale flood control component of the project, which has been undergoing review and approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project also includes trails, bridges, and other infrastructure.

The Trinity Uptown Plan will enable additional private development across the limits of the project. According to the city, enhanced flood protection will allow for 10,000 new homes in high-density developments will be built over the next 20 years, which will help accommodate Fort Worth’s projected 50 percent population increase over that same time frame, which is due to a booming economy, particularly related to construction-based activity associated with drilling gas wells to tap into the Barnett Shale, a massive natural gas reservoir spanning across the city and surrounding counties.

Both projects have generated significant political excitement.

“This is city redevelopment at its finest,” Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief said. “The great cooperative partnership with all local governments also distinguishes Fort Worth and Tarrant County from most other areas of the country.”

The implications of the project are far-reaching.

While some of the work will not start for a couple of years, the publicity and interest in the project have already begun, as well as months of design and preliminary permitting work.

“The new development is expected to increase Fort Worth’s tax base by over a billion dollars,” Bill Thornton, president of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, said. “That increase helps Fort Worth absorb the rising infrastructure costs associated with our expected population growth. To that end, Trinity Uptown is good for our local economy.” CEG

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