Monday, December 1, 2014

The Fort Worth Emperor Has No Clothes On Its Imaginary Island

Stay with me as you read this, eventually I go from Skagit County to Tarrant County and Fort Worth.

Yesterday the Skagit River in my old home zone had me trying to remember the name of a wetlands slough which runs through my old hometown of Burlington. Eventually I remembered it is called Gage's Slough.

Gage's Slough used to be a channel of the Skagit River when the river ran high in flood mode. In the early 1950s massive dikes were built along the Skagit River at the point where the river enters the flat zone of the Skagit Valley.

In the 1990s there were two serious Skagit River floods, two weeks apart. Then early in this century there was a flood which was thought to have possible catastrophic potential. As in the river was running so high it was flooding into Gage's Slough, threatening a large area with flooding, including the Cascade Mall zone. I recollect seeing this on CNN, with the report saying evacuation orders had been issued for parts of Burlington.

I recollect calling my brother's house when I heard this, due to his house being in the evacuation zone. My sister-in-law answered, told me that they'd been warned that they "might" have to evacuate. But, by the next day the danger had subsided, with no evacuations needed.

After the 1990s flood, and again after the flood early this century, there was talk of reviving an old Army Corps of Engineers plan to build a flood diversion channel along the route of Gage's Slough. There were many objections to this idea, mostly due to the amount of extremely valuable farmland that would be lost.

The Skagit River Flood Diversion Channel would have diverted flood water to Padilla Bay. By the Fort Worth definition of an island, this Skagit River Flood Diversion Channel would create a big island, an island surrounded by the Skagit River, the flood diversion channel and the Swinomish Channel which runs from Padilla Bay to Skagit Bay.

Also, by Fort Worth's definition of an island, the Skagit River Vision could call this body of land an island, even though no flood diversion channel has currently been built making it a pseudo island.

I like the name Fish Town Island for the Skagit River Vision's island.  Fish Town is an old settlement near the mouth of the North Fork of the Skagit River.

I do need to point out that it sort of would seem to be totally ridiculous to have an imaginary island where actual islands exist. Looking at the map above you can see several islands, including two big islands, Fidalgo and Whidbey. Even more islands, called the San Juans, pop up to the left of the area covered in the above map.

On Fidalgo Island there is a lake, Lake Erie, which has an island, one of the world's rare instances of a legitimate island on an island. You can see the island on an island on the left side of the map above, below the green area denoting Mount Erie Park.

Unlike Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision Boondoggle's imaginary island,  Fish Town Island comes with a successful tourist town already installed called La Conner, with an actual iconic signature bridge connecting Fish Town Island with Fidalgo Island and the Swinomish Indian Reservation.

Above, that is La Conner's Rainbow Bridge, crossing the Swinomish Channel. Isn't that something? An actual iconic, signature bridge built  over actual water in about one year. In the little tourist town of La Conner, a town which needed no special "vision" to  see a bustling waterfront. It just came natural.

In fact there are two iconic, signature bridges in the area covered in the above map, the other being the Deception Pass Bridge, built over very treacherous fast moving tidal water in a little over a year.

In the Deception Pass Bridge Postcard, made from a photo taken while the bridge was under construction, every body of land you see is an island, Whidbey Island on the right, Fidalgo Island on the left, Pass Island in the middle of the bridge. I forget the name of the other island.

So, last night whilst I was enjoying a salubrious soak in the hot tub, enjoying the balmy night air, with occasional cooling jumps in the pool, it suddenly occurred to me that I am that boy totally perplexed by everyone singing the praises of the Emperor's beautiful clothes, with me seeing quite clearly that the Emperor is totally naked.

Sometimes I feel like I am the only boy in town who is not going along with the Emperor and his new clothes, with the Fort Worth version being going along with pretending that something which is not an island, is an island. I am sure I am not the only boy in town who can see that there is no island, that even if a ditch is ever dug under the Three Bridges Over Nothing, currently supposedly under construction, making a connection from the mainland, over the ditch, that this still is not an island.

I can not be the only boy in town who is able to see that this is just embarrassing. Every time I hear one of the Emperor's toadies mention "Panther Island" I cringe.

How is it that Fort Worth failed to learn the Sundance Square lesson? Where, for decades, Fort Worth confused its few tourists by putting signs all over its downtown pointing to Sundance Square, when there was no square, til recently, when a little plaza was built on one of the parking lots most tourists assumed was Sundance Square.

And now, in 2014, how is Fort Worth going to explain to its few tourists where Panther Island is? There are so many Trinity River Vision Boondoggle signs now which point the way to Panther Island, where there is no island, and where, if that ditch ever does get dug, it still will not be an island, not by any sane person's definition of an island. Or anyone who has actually seen an actual island.

The Emperor has no clothes. This is a fact. An undeniable truth. Panther Island is not an island.

Fort Worth really needs to knock this type stuff off and quit embarrassing itself.

And once Fort Worth quits embarrassing itself someone needs to explain, coherently, how in the world the project timeline for Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision Boondoggle's Three Bridges Over Nothing can take four years? Way longer than actual complex feats of bridge engineering, including Fort Worth's own Paddock Main Street Bridge. Built over the Trinity River a century ago, in way less than four years.

I say it again, the Emperor has no clothes. There is no such thing as Panther Island.....

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