Friday, October 28, 2016

Bizarre Star-Telegram Bridge Boondoggle Report

Comment from Captain Andy this morning regarding The Boondoggle's Bridge Fiasco....

Andy N has left a new comment on your post "Why Does Fort Worth Star-Telegram Not Recommend Rejecting Trinity River Vision's Bad Plan?":

Fort Worth’s Panther Island bridges a year behind schedule

Star-Telegram finally takes a swing on the delay and it's a miss. There ARE NO PIERS. What you see is a form for unpoured concrete. 

I had already read the Star-Telegram's article about the Bridge Fiasco and thought, as did Captain Andy, that the article took a lame swing at the Boondoggle's bridge delay.

And missed.

The first paragraph...

It started with a bang and a fiery explosion. But nearly two years later, construction of three bridges north of downtown Fort Worth leading to the planned Panther Island development has slowed to something more like a simmer.

That Star-Telegram has the bridges being a year behind schedule. But construction was halted back in March. Eight months ago. Well, I guess that is getting close to a year.

Such a long delay to this vitally needed project and after eight months the Star-Telegram finally, sort of, reports on the delay. A report which does not address what the actual problem is with constructing these relatively simple little bridges.

I mean, these bridges are no Golden Gate being built over deep, fast moving saltwater.

A gem from Fort Worth's esteemed mayor...

Price, answering critics who had questioned whether the $910 million project would ever get built, declared, “This is not a bridge to nowhere.”

Proper grammar should have had Betsy saying "These are not bridges to nowhere".

But they sort of are bridges to nowhere. The bridges certainly currently are going nowhere. And if the bridges are ever completed, connecting the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island, well, they really will still be bridges to nowhere.

And then there are these two paragraphs....

Now officials involved in the massive effort say construction of the bridges has fallen about a year behind schedule and likely won’t be completed until 2019. The bridges, which are being financed with state highway funds, were originally expected to be completed in 2018 and cost $65.5 million, although that cost could go up if the delay continues.

The main cause of the delay, officials say, are changes in the design for the steel-reinforced concrete piers that will support the bridges. The changes have been in progress for about a year, slowing work on the bridges to a crawl.

Building these three simple little bridges is a massive effort? If construction halted in March, why are they saying construction has fallen about a year behind schedule?

What schedule? Is it not one of the many reasons the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision has become a boondoggle is the fact that this project has never had an sort of project timeline schedule?

The main cause of the delay are changes to the design? Those changes have been in progress for a year? Why was construction started on those V Piers if the design was "in progress"?

I am particularly fond of this short tidbit...

The delay comes at a time when substantial progress has been made in other areas of the Panther Island project, formerly known as Trinity Uptown.

Substantial progress had been make in other areas of the Panther Island project? Which used to be known as Trinity Uptown? The Star-Telegram mentions substantial progress, without detailing what this progress is. The successful closing of the Cowtown Wakepark? That did seem like progress.

We are told the Boondoggle was formerly known as Trinity Uptown. Earlier in the article The Boondoggle was referred to as the Trinity River Vision.  Elsewhere it is the Panther Island Project. Apparently the Star-Telegram has some awareness of the various names The Boondoggle has given itself as it boondoggles along.

Another bizarre bit in this article...

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said the modifications were described to him not as a design problem but rather as an effort to be abundantly cautious about the bridges, which have an unusual flattop design essentially with most of the supports below the driving surface. He said he was told that designers built scale models to test out the piers and ensure they could support the rest of the bridge.

Whitley added that it was his understanding work on the bridges would resume soon.

“I have been told the models worked like they thought they would work and they have given the green light to get started on it,” Whitley said.

Oh, so there is no design problem. Instead, after construction was started, it was decided now was the time to be abundantly cautious about the bridges. Yes, that makes a lot of sense.

So, some V Piers get stuck in the ground, construction grinds to a halt, the Star-Telegram tells us at the time the construction halt has to do with a mistake in the steel reinforcing the concrete.

So, then models were built to test if these V Piers would actually hold up a bridge? With a judge being told the models worked and so the green light has been given to re-start the building of those bridges to nowhere.

Who knows what the truth is?  Anyone? When I first saw those V Piers I did not understand how such would support a bridge deck. But, I'm no engineer, so I figured the bridges were designed by engineers who knew what they were doing.

It has long seemed odd to me that it is not an issue building those bridges before a ditch is dug under them. Won't the ditch digging be made more complicated due to having the bridges in place?

How many more years, or decades, is America's Biggest Boondoggle going to keep boondoggling along before the plug gets pulled? It seems that is the likely inevitable fate of something as badly mismanaged as this pseudo public works project has been....

1 comment:

Steve A said...

PERHAPS, JD Granger is the designer. Now isn't THAT a scary thought?