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When will Panther Island project be completed? Army Corps updates schedule

November 14,2022

See full Fort Worth Report article by Rachel Behrndt here.

The Central City Flood Project, more widely known as the Panther Island Project, has a new estimated time of completion — 2032.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expect the initial components of the project, two bypass channels and surrounding infrastructure, will be completed mid-2029. The remaining elements of the project — a dam and pump stations — will be completed in 2032.

It’s a longer timeline than the one pitched by the Trinity River Vision Authority in the past. Col. Jonathan S. Stover with the U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers previously predicted it would take about six years to finish the design and construction of the first bypass channel.

The newly released schedule shifts that timeline to five years to complete the north bypass channel, but estimates it will take seven years to complete the south bypass channel.

The schedule accounts for supply chain issues and workforce constraints that have delayed the construction industry as a whole since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Matt Oliver, a spokesman for the Central City Flood Project.

The corps will sign five contracts for the project components by mid-2023, said Woody Frossard, the environmental director for the Tarrant Regional Water District.

The north bypass channel, the south bypass channel, the flood-proofing of University Drive and Rockwood Park, the pump station and dams and ecosystem restoration in Gateway Park will all have their own contract.

“They’re really pushing hard to get those contracts because that’ll obligate all of those funds,” Frossard said. “Then they’ll go back to D.C. and say, ‘I’ve got this much obligated for design. It’ll be finished in ‘23, therefore we will obligate the rest of it, so I’ll be ready for more funds.’ … But it shows they have moved forward spending the money.”

Frossard also offered a tentative timeline for getting contracts approved by the corps. The contract to raise University Drive will likely be signed in December. The north bypass channel will be finalized in February or March, and the south bypass channel two months later. Finally, the design contract for the gates and dam will likely be signed in late summer 2023.

Every component of the project includes two parts, design and construction. Design for the north and south bypass channels was already underway, after the project initially received just $62 million in federal funding.

Congress has authorized up to $526 million for Panther Island, but allocated only $403 million to complete the final design for the project.

The contract for the north bypass channel will go to CDM/Stanley Joint Venture. The contract for the south bypass channel has not been announced, said Clay Church, a spokesman for the U.S, Army Corps of Engineers.

The firm already completed 60% of the design for the north bypass channel and 35% of the design for the south channel. CDM/Stanley Joint Venture is a partnership between Virginia-based CDM and Stanley Consultants focused on engineering and construction. Both companies have offices in Texas.

CDM Smith recently posted a job opening on LinkedIn for a civil works engineer related to the project.

Previously, project leaders considered using a design-build method to complete the bypass channels. That entails using the same contractor for design and construction, in an effort to move the process along more efficiently.

Because design was already underway for the channels, it would take longer to contact a design-build firm, because design would have to begin at square one.

“The engineer for the design-build won’t accept the 60% because they can’t put their stamp on it,” Frossard said. “So they would have to go back and redesign everything that’s already been done. So it just didn’t make sense.”

The design-build method could be used for other aspects of the project, such as the dam and ecosystem restoration.

The schedule was finalized as Fort Worth prepares to rethink the development plans for the island and surrounding areas.

Development of the land surrounding the central city flood project can begin right away, said Dana Burghdoff, one of Fort Worth’s assistant city managers.

The city received six proposals from consultants bidding to work on redevelopment plans for the area, Burghdoff said in a report to Fort Worth City Council. An interagency committee — comprised of city staff, members of the Greater Fort Worth Real Estate Council and others — will review and select consultants to be interviewed by Dec. 2.

Staff will update members of the Fort Worth City Council with the recommended consultant in December, according to a report from Burghdoff.

Progress made on the project by local partners
Tarrant Regional Water District has completed the majority of its share of prep work related to the Central City Flood Project.

95% of utility relocations are completed
90% of parcels have received environmental clean-ups
90% of structures are demolished
75% of properties acquired
The remaining properties to be acquired are near Gateway Park. The land will primarily be used by the corps for ecosystem restoration.

Before construction of the north and south bypass channels can begin, the city of Fort Worth needs to relocate several storm drains, water and sewer lines and other utilities.

Mark Mazzanti, risk management coordinator with the Trinity River Vision Authority, said they have observed a renewed sense of urgency since the project received $403 million in funding in January.

The corps is “way ahead of schedule,” Mazzanti said.

As the project enters its next phase of planning and construction. it is shedding some of its old baggage. Former water district employee JD Granger’s LLC, JD Granger Group, will no longer be involved in the project. The company’s six-month contract with the water district ended October 31, Tarrant Regional Water District Spokesman Chad Lorance confirmed.

Lorance did not elaborate on why the contract was not renewed.

Location Mentioned: Panther Island Pavilion