Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Opines Boondoggle's Stalled Bridges Can't Be A Good Thing

Well, it seems that perhaps the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has finally noticed that there is something rotten in the state of Denmark, I mean, the state of the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision.

Such seems the case this morning via a Star-Telegram editorial titled Stalled Panther Island bridges can’t be good thing.

You in modern towns in America, with real newspapers, can you imagine something like you see in this photo, floundering at the heart of your town, for months on end, with your local newspaper not getting to the truth of what is going on with such a mess?

Less than a week ago the Star-Telegram first made note of that which many have noted for months. We blogged about that in Bizarre Star-Telegram Bridge Boondoggle Report.

In that article the Star-Telegram could find no one who could explain the stalled bridge building problem. In today's Star-Telegram editorial, Val Lopez, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation said what the Star-Telegram characterized as what may be the only positive thing he could say about the stalled bridges, telling the Star-Telegram...

We want to make sure we do this right,”

I would assume such is the case with just about any public works project of any scope.

The Star-Telegram goes on to say "...the fact remains that construction of the bridges started almost a year ago and was halted about three months later. They may not be finished until 2019, a year behind schedule."

More rare non-propaganda editorializing from the Star-Telegram...

"Other than Lopez, most of the people with direct knowledge of the bridge problem don’t want to talk about it."

"That’s understandable. After all, Trinity River Vision still has its share — maybe more than its share — of vocal opponents."

"Nobody involved wants to say the bridges weren’t being done right in the first place, but you don’t stop in the middle of a project like this unless somebody thinks something is wrong."

The Star-Telegram says the Trinity River Vision may have more than its share of opponents. I don't think opponents is the correct characterization. I think it is more accurate to say that which used to be called the Trinity River Vision has a lot of people who have observed the "vision" and have been appalled by how badly the "vision" has been managed.

Defunct Wakeboard parks, floating beer parties in a polluted river, little progress, a project timeline which constantly shifts, an unqualified son of a local politician made the project's executive director, a public works project drastically changing the town, but the townspeople have never been allowed to vote on the project. And even with no public vote on a public works project, eminent domain being abused to take property, over and over again.

Thinking such is not opposing the project, it is objecting to how the project has been mismanaged, in various ways, from the start.

The Star-Telegram editorial also mentions the "B" word for the first time...

"Panther Island/Trinity River Vision can’t afford many missteps. Too many people already see it as an extremely expensive boondoggle."

I have long thought the basic idea behind what has become America's Biggest Boondoggle may be a good idea, maybe even a great idea, but as the project approaches two decades of boondoggling, it seems it may be time to re-think The Boondoggle and fix what ails it, if it is determined fixing it is possible and a good thing to do.

The Star-Telegram is uncharacteristically feisty in this editorial. The editorial suggests, "Nobody involved wants to say the bridges weren’t being done right in the first place, but you don’t stop in the middle of a project like this unless somebody thinks something is wrong."

To which the TxDOT spokesman, Lopez told the Star-Telegram that “These are the kinds of modifications that can occur all of the time on a project this size.

The Star-Telegram editorial incredulously then said, "Really? Nothing like this seemed to happen with construction on the new Seventh Street bridge. Same with an overabundance of freeway and toll lane construction across Tarrant County and even the buildings and parking garages being built downtown."

That Seventh Street bridge, which looks so cool one might legitimately describe it as a signature bridge, was built in less than a year. Three bridges near Gateway Park, recently completed, were also built in about a year, with one of those bridges crossing the Trinity River, which flooded twice during the construction, which was not halted.

I am not an engineer of any sort. I am blessed with basic common sense, as are a lot of people. I have long been puzzled by those V Piers which are supposed to support the bridge decks of those three bridges connecting the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island.

Looking at the photo of the wooden form for one of those V Piers I don't understand how this would support a bridge deck.

Where the V hits the ground does this go deep? With a big solid foundation of concrete?

With the V Piers and bridges in place how does the ditch get dug under them? You can see that supports are currently holding up the wooden forms of the V Pier. When the concrete is poured and those supports removed, how does that chunk of steel reinforced concrete not come crashing to the ground?

Are these the type questions, with no answers, which have grounded America's Biggest Boondoggle to a halt?

Maybe the Fort Worth Star-Telegram will find answers now that the newspaper seems, sort of, to be on the case....


Matthew Clemons said...

Sometimes I think this whole fiasco is really hilarious. How a relatively late modern city can have something this ridiculous going on is phenomenal. But, then I remember what a blight these idiots have put on the city. The area they have ruined was nothing special. But, it was an honest area of urban industrial Fort Worth. There were real businesses with real people working and using that area. These morons just came in there with their "visions" and destroyed that piece of our heritage. What a sham.

Anonymous said...

That area was special enough to me. Owning property there was a decision made to have a productive place to work, in a central city location, with a view toward the future. How could the decision to work hard to buy property adjacent to a growing and thriving downtown area, become a bad idea. This was an investment in the future. This was a solid calculation that free enterprise might one day, need this area to continue what was started downtown and along west 7th street. Nearly a decade of anxiety and 3 1/2 years of constant stress and concern over trying to eventually get a more fair compensation for the property, after it was taken, building demolished, giving the projects representatives no real incentive to offer a better payment, finally came to an end. However, no real victory. There is nothing fair about this process. Property owners were not made whole. Waging an expensive legal battle to seek just compensation, against a cadre of entities running this project, moving at a glacial pace, with trivial and frivolous activities and attractions, all occurring without the voter approval needed for a project this size, has left such a bad taste and repeated scars from the grinding down of our resolve over the years. Unless it happens to you, no one knows how nasty is the threat of eminent domain. The bank didn't understand. The insurance company didn't understand. The contractors and surveyors that swarmed the area did not seem to be working in consort. The county, a partner on the project, did not seem to have a list of taken properties. Tax bills were sent for full value for years after the Water District had the property in its name. Property owners were told that they might get a small refund. It took attorneys to inform the County that a "Whole Taking" situation, by law, means that no taxes should have assessed at all, once the properties had been signed over to the Water District. I want my property and my decade of strife back. I bet my friends an neighbors do too.