Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Economic And Fiscal Reality Of Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision Boondoggle

This morning Elsie Hotpepper pointed me to a 20 page document on the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle's website titled Economic and Fiscal Impacts of the Corps of Engineers' Trinity River Vision Project in Tarrant County Texas.

More than once I have verbalized my wonderment regarding the fact that there does not seem to be any sort of project timeline for the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle's urgently needed flood control and economic development scheme.


Reading through the TRVB document there is a lot of jaw dropping information. But the main thing I gleaned was way back over a decade ago, when this document was produced, the Boondoggle had a project timeline which had construction projects starting in 2005, running through 2015, which is about three months from now.

The Boondoggle's document says the corps will spend about  $357 through 2015, generating more than $600 million in economic activity. Wow. That is one HUGE return on investment. I suspect though that the Boondoggle forgot to add the word "million" after $357.

In this Boondoggle document, near the end, we learn that way back over a decade ago, developers noticed what will  be happening on the Trinity River in Fort Worth, with one un-named business leader opining that this project can catapult Fort Worth into the upper echelon of American cities.

I wonder what that un-named business leader is thinking now?

A decade later.

With little to show after a decade of Boondoggling.

Well, there are those Three Bridges Over Nothing supposedly under construction, a drive-in movie theater, an imaginary island with an imaginary pavilion, inner tube floating music parties with beer and a brewery. Oh, and a wakeboard lake.

Below are three excerpts from the Boondoggle's document containing that which I referenced above.....

The preliminary cost schedule calls for the Corps of Engineers to spend $435 million to realign the Trinity River with ancillary construction projects starting in 2005 through 2015. This spending will pay for engineering, architectural, environmental and other studies as well as hard and soft costs of building bridges, realigning the bypass channel, building gates, walls, levees, and several other features as well as management, administrative, and other costs. Though the budget includes over $76 million for property acquisition, we have not included this spending in our impact estimates. We do not have sufficient information on property ownership to ascertain the degree to which any income gains from the sale of property would contribute to local economic activity. In addition, $1.5 million is budgeted to help existing businesses relocate. The impact of this spending will depend on the nature of the assistance provided; therefore, we do not include this comparatively modest spending in our impact assessment.

The Trinity River realignment project and related Trinity River Vision have already spurred redevelopment efforts in the City of Fort Worth, without turning one shovelful of dirt. Corps spending on the proposed project will be about $357 through the year 2015, not including payments for land acquisition and business relocation assistance. This spending will generate more than $600 million in economic activity in Tarrant County and support over 6,000 person-years of employment. However, as impressive as these impacts are, they pale in comparison to the private commercial and residential development that will likely follow the TRV project.

Business and city officials note that developers from outside Tarrant County and outside Texas have taken notice of what will be happening along the Trinity River in Fort Worth. As observed by one business leader, this is the project that can catapult Fort Worth into the upper echelon of American cities.

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