Work is about to begin on Fort Worth’s Panther Island. When we can expect it to be done?
A Trinity River bypass channel that would create an 800-acre island just north of downtown could be completed within six years.
That is the estimate from Col. Jonathan Stover, district commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Fort Worth Division, who spoke about the project during a press conference Thursday. A day earlier the U.S. Reps. Kay Granger and Marc Veasey announced that the flood control project would receive $403 million from the Corps.
That’s enough to cover everything except for a dam, two flood gates and a pump station, Corps spokesperson Rhonda Paige wrote in an email.
Paige said that funding will probably be needed between 2024 and 2026, and Stover expects it to come from the Corps’ normal budget process.
The channel is part of the Central City Flood Control project aimed at bolstering Fort Worth’s aging levee system first installed in 1960.
“Almost two decades ago the corps told us that 86% of the levees were no longer providing the level of flood protection they were designed to deliver,” said Leah King, president of the Tarrant Regional Water District board.
It will take about a year to hire a contractor and another year to finish the design, Stover said. Construction will take about four years once it starts.
When completed, the channel will create Panther Island, a district with canals and riverwalks that is expected to support 10,000 residents.
The project includes several man-made flood plains down river that will beef up the city’s flood protection. Two of those flood plains are Gateway and Riverside parks.
Getting $403 million for the channel is a big vote of confidence in the project, said Granger, a Republican from Fort Worth. She said it signaled that the project was a priority for the Corps.
The city of Fort Worth will relocate utilities like water, power and sewage lines to make way for the channel. The city paused that work in 2019 when the project was left out of federal budgets.
City Manager David Cooke said Thursday the city has always made it a priority to not get in the way of the Army Corps’ construction. Now that the project has federal funding, the city can move forward with relocating utilities on the north side of the channel, Cooke said.
He added that relocating water, power and sewer lines on the south side of the channel won’t happen until the corps finalizes its plans for that section.
The overall cost of the project between local, state and federal partners is still estimated at $1.17 billion. Paige said the corps used historical data to account for possible when estimating the cost of the project.