$403M coming to Panther Island. Work to begin on development north of downtown Fort Worth

January 19,2022


See full Fort Worth Star-Telegram article by Harrison Mantas here.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will spend $403 million on a 1.5 mile bypass channel as part of the Central City Flood Control Project, U.S. Reps Kay Granger and Marc Veasey announced Wednesday.

The money will be used to “complete final design of all project components and construction of the bypass channel,” Granger’s press release said.

The 1.5-mile channel will connect sections of the Clear and West Forks of the Trinity River north of downtown Fort Worth. TOP VIDEOS × When completed, the channel will create the 800-acre Panther Island. As conceived 20 years ago, Panther Island is intended to be a dense, walkable district that supports 10,000 residents as well as retail and office space.

This is the most money the Army Corps has allocated to the project. Congress approved $526 million in 2016, but disagreements with the Trump administration over the project’s feasibility held up funding.

The project has received $62 million in federal funding.

The $403 million will come from Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in November 2021.

Veasey said in his statement that he was happy to vote for the bill and to work with the Biden-Harris administration to secure the funding. Granger voted against it.

PANTHER ISLAND PROJECT

The original Trinity River Vision plan, developed in 2003, envisioned a bustling waterfront downtown, with a 50-acre town lake and about 12 miles of waterfront space. The channel was designed as an update to the Trinity River levee system first installed in 1960. Those levees were added after catastrophic flooding in May 1949 killed 10 and left 13,000 people homeless.

The new channel will reduce the risk of flooding to 2,400 acres of Fort Worth neighborhoods, said Leah King, president of the Tarrant Regional Water District board.

The money will allow the Army Corps to finish design and construction of the bypass channel, said Clay Church, a spokesperson for the corps’ Fort Worth district.

Church estimated the design and contracting process will take 18 months, but couldn’t definitively say when construction on the channel would begin or how long it would take.

He said the flood control project near Gateway Park will be the first part people will see completed.

The channel will run under the recently completed Panther Island bridges at North Main Street, North Henderson Street and White Settlement Road. Those bridges were scheduled to open in 2017, but were delayed by design issues when Texas Department of Transportation inspectors wanted to take a closer look at the unique v-shaped piers.

The city of Fort Worth will have to relocate utilities to make way for the bypass channel. City Manager David Cooke told the Star-Telegram in 2019 the city was holding off on spending money until there was more certainty about federal funding.

It is not clear how much the utility relocation will cost, but the most recent construction update from the Panther Island/Central City Flood Control Project estimates it will cost the city roughly $115 million.

District 2 council member Carlos Flores said in a phone interview that the Trinity River Vision Authority board, which coordinates the project’s local partners, will meet on Jan. 27 to discuss next steps. Flores has been a member of the board since 2017.

“We’ve always had a plan,” Flores said. “Now that we have funding that has become available, we will look at our plan again and update it accordingly.”

The meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Tarrant Regional Water District, 800 East Northside Drive.

“I’m kind of anxious cause I want to get cracking. This is really good news,” Flores said.

Flores thanked the efforts of Granger and Veasey in a statement texted to the Star-Telegram. He also thanked Tarrant County and the water district for their support of the project.

“First and foremost, this project will provide necessary flood control protection for our growing population, and subsequently spur development to the benefit of surrounding under served communities and the city,” Flores texted.

Granger celebrated the announcement saying it represents responsible growth for the city.

“As the leaders in flood control, I thank the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for understanding that responsibility and addressing that need for Fort Worth. Our community will be safer thanks to their hard work and tireless commitment,” Granger said.

She also thanked Veasey for his work on getting the project funded.


Location Mentioned: Panther Island Pavilion