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Fort Worth's Panther Island project gets 'go-time' $403 million from Army Corps of Engineers

January 19,2022

See full WFAA article by Ryan Osborne here.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday announced $403 million in funding for the Panther Island project in Fort Worth, a needed boost for the controversial flood control effort aimed at rerouting a section of the Trinity River near downtown.

U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, confirmed the Corps of Engineers funding for the project, also known as the Central City Flood Control Project, calling the news "a great day for Fort Worth."

The Corps of Engineers funding was allocated as part of last year's federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Granger voted against.

The funding will allow the Corps of Engineers "to complete final design of all project components and construction of the bypass channel," according to a release from Granger's office.

The Panther Island project started as a plan for flood control nearly two decades ago. But over the years, the project grew to a $1.1 billion price tag with plans for housing developments, office space and entertainment venues. 

Concerns over management have been raised in recent years, along with one big hurdle: an additional estimated $500 million in funding would be required from the federal government.

Before the Corps of Engineers' announcement this week, the Panther Island project had received only $62 million from the federal government, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The Corps of Engineers announcement this week is "the go-time moment we have been anxiously awaiting," Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker said in a statement Wednesday.

"We had confidence in the Corps of Engineers and our federal representatives," Parker said. "This funding announcement delivers the certainty that will make our community safer and the green light for further investment in the area. This is an incredible moment in Fort Worth’s history.”

The key component to the Panther Island project is rerouting a 1.5-mile stretch of the Trinity River just north of the Tarrant County Courthouse, near downtown.

As a flood control project, the Panther Island plans are "a critical piece of infrastructure that will provide needed flood protection and growth opportunities to Fort Worth," U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, who voted in favor of last year's infrastructure bill, said in the news release.

Fort Worth's current levee system along the Trinity River was built in 1960. Leah King, president of the Tarrant Regional Water District, said the Panther Island project would help reduce the risk of flooding for more than 2,400 acres of Fort Worth neighborhoods.

"This funding addresses Fort Worth’s flood risks that are a result of a rapidly growing population which has tripled in size since our current levee system was built in 1960," King said in the release.