Sunday, January 8, 2017

Amazon's Spheres Got Me Thinking About Fort Worth's Spheres Of Boondoggles

A couples days ago I was asked if I knew the current status of the stalled bridge construction in Fort Worth.

A question about stalled Fort Worth bridge construction is referencing the three simple little bridges being built over dry land to connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island.

Fort Worth's four year bridge building project began with a big TNT bang over two years ago. Then, in March of last year, construction was halted due to supposed design errors involving re-bar.

Such is one among many reasons that that which used to be known as the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision is now known, far and wide, as America's Biggest  Boondoggle.

Now with federal funding to the tune of about a half billion bucks.

That's right, you who live in other areas of America, particularly those areas of America which are allowed  to vote to approve and fund public works projects, you are helping pay for Fort Worth's vitally un-needed flood control and economic development scheme which has been dawdling along for most of this century, and has never been approved by a public vote.

A couple days ago I saw something in the Seattle Times which had me freshly pondering what a backwards backwater Fort Worth is in so many ways. An article titled Amazon's Spheres: Lush nature paradise to adorn $4 billion urban campus.

Can you imagine an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram  about something in Fort Worth with two paragraphs such as....

The fruit of a bold design, the so-called Spheres will serve as a haven of carefully tended nature geared to letting Amazonians break free from their cubicles and think disruptive thoughts. It’s an internet-era, Pacific Rim answer to the architecturally astounding gardens set up by European monarchs during the Enlightenment era.

The structures are also the architectural crown jewel of Amazon’s $4 billion investment in building an urban campus, an eye-catching landmark that symbolizes the rise of what 20 years ago was a fledgling online bookstore into a global e-commerce and cloud-computing leviathan.

During my time in Texas two corporations built new corporate headquarters in downtown Fort Worth.

Tax breaks and eminent domain abuse were used for Radio Shack to build its new headquarters, which caused Fort  Worth to lose the world's shortest subway, acres of easy parking, and which became a Boondoggle when Radio Shack could not afford its new headquarters, with the Boondoggle compounded by another Fort Worth Boondoggle, that being the messed up construction of a downtown campus of Tarrant County College, with that Boondoggle eventually leading to Tarrant County College paying millions to Radio Shack to use the Radio Shack headquarters for a purpose for which it was not designed.

A college.

You reading this in modern areas of America, I am not making this stuff up. Fort Worth has to be the Boondoggle center of the known world, with Tarrant County being the eminent domain abuse center of the known world.

The other new corporate headquarters in downtown Fort Worth was the Pier One Imports building. Soon Pier One also could  not afford its new building. So, it was sold to Chesapeake Energy, from whence Chesapeake then ran its shadow government of Fort Worth during the bizarre reign of Mayor Mike Moncrief. Chesapeake Energy has since been run out of town. I don't know who own the old Pier One Imports building now.

I saw that Seattle Times article about the new Amazon campus. A $4 billion campus, built at the north end of the Seattle downtown, an area already highly developed and thought what a contrast between how such a thing happens in modern America, compared to how projects falter in Fort Worth.

I have read of no eminent  domain use, or abuse, used to acquire the property to build Amazon's buildings. I have read of no tax breaks or sweetheart deals or bribes finagled by Amazon from the Seattle government in exchange for building its new headquarters where it is being built.

If Amazon tried that type tactic, which works so well in desperate Fort Worth, Amazon would likely be told if they can't afford to build without such help, then don't built it there. Which is what Cabela's was told when it tried to shake down a Washington town. Unlike in Fort Worth, the absurd claim that Cabela's would be the number one tourist attraction in Washington was not tried, while Fort Worth bought that Top Attraction in Texas con and gave all sorts of enticements to the sporting goods store, while in Washington Cabela's was told no, if you need subsidies to open here, then don't open here.

Reading about the new Amazon campus in Seattle got me thinking about issues regarding Fort Worth other than just the Radio Shack Boondoggle.

Fort Worth's infamous Trinity River Vision debacle has been boondoggling along for most of this century. Boondoggling along with an ever shifting project timeline, the latest of which had Boondoggle Executive Director, J.D. Granger saying most of the project's infrastructure should be complete by 2023. Who knows what is meant by project infrastructure. The pitiful bridges? The ditch under the bridges?

Thinking about Fort Worth's pitifully slow, badly designed, ineptly implemented public works project got me thinking about other public works type projects I know of which have been happening during the same time frame during which Fort Worth has not managed to complete its relatively simple project.

Arlington voters approved of the building of a new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. Construction on that billion dollar plus spaceship began in 2004. If I remember right the first Super Bowl happened there in 2009, or 2010.

Way back late in the last century Dallas voters approved their own Trinity River Vision, well before Fort Worth did its copy cat thing. The Dallas Vision included three signature bridges. Fort Worth's Vision copied the three signature bridges element, then failed to deliver. Whilst Dallas has finished one of its signature bridges, with another soon to be completed, or, for all I know, is completed. I know the second bridge was well under way when last I was in Dallas.

I blogged about the Dallas bridges my one and only time driving over the completed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in In Dallas Driving & Walking Across Impressive Signature Bridges To Trinity Groves.

During the period of time Fort Worth has been limping along with America's Biggest Boondoggle, up north, in Seattle, two major public works projects have come to be a reality. The new 520 floating bridge across Lake Washington is completed, floating and carrying traffic. Unlike Fort Worth's stalled bridges the Seattle floating bridge was built over actual water. The entire new floating bridge project cost around  $4 billion.

Seattle has another $4 billion project well underway. That being the Alaskan Way Viaduct project This involves the world's biggest tunnel boring machine, nicknamed Bertha, tunneling under downtown Seattle. Bertha is nearing completion after a major hiccup put the project about a year behind schedule.

While Bertha has been boring, other parts of the project have been underway, such as replacing the seawall along the Seattle waterfront.

Seattle projects, and public works  projects in locations other than Fort Worth, have actual project timelines, with full transparency when something goes awry, like the Bertha problem. Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, no one knows the real reasons The Boondoggle's simple little bridges have stalled.

Here is an example of how a responsible public works project's directors let the people know how their public works project is progressing, with that example being on the WSDOT Follow Bertha webpage.

How come such a webpage does not exist for Fort Worth's infamous Bridge Boondoggle? Other than the Trinity River Vision's bizarre quarterly propaganda publications which tout, four times a year, what little has actually been accomplished since The Boondoggle's last quarterly propaganda mailing.

This blogging has gone long. I was going to mention some other west coast public works projects, approved in the November election. The something like $82 billion transit bond approved by Los Angeles voters. And the $54 billion transit measure approved by Pierce, King and Snohomish county voters, those being the counties where Tacoma, Seattle and Everett are located.

Meanwhile in Fort Worth, no public vote funding the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision. But there is that almost half billion bucks that may dribble in to town over time, maybe with enough money arriving that those little bridges being built over dry land  might one day get built, along with the ditch dug to go under the bridges....


Steve A said...

I do fear that the Bertha Boondoggle will beat the TRWD one to completion. That's doubly sad since the Bertha Boondoggle will probably make things worse in Seattle had nothing at all been built. At least the TRWD Boondoggle won't make things noticeably worse in Fort Worth in the unlikely event it is completed.

Anonymous said...

Unless you live downstream...