Thursday, July 9, 2020

After Years Of Delays Fort Worth's Emperor Still Wears No Clothes

I saw that which see you above this morning on the front page of the online version of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. I read the headline and thought to myself what fresh ridiculous absurdist propaganda is this?

And then I was surprised to find myself not blocked from reading the article which tries to make sense of that senseless headline.

It has been several months since Mr. Bobalu asked me if I had heard anything of late regarding the status of the bridge building which had wreaked havoc on Mr. Bobalu's life due to how the Boondoggle, known as the Trinity River Vision Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision, had abused using eminent domain to take Mr. Bobalu's property in order to build a bridge over dry land, connecting the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island.

Construction on these three bridges built over dry land began way back in 2014, with a then astonishing four year project timeline.

It is now six years later, with Fort Worth's only newspaper claiming the bridges could be ready sooner than expected.

The Golden Gate Bridge, built over actual deep, swift moving water was built in less than four years. Tacoma's newest Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge was built over actual deep, swift moving water in less than four years.

But Fort Worth has been unable to build three simple little bridges over dry land in four years, in five years, and now in six years. With no actual projected estimate of when the bridges might be of actual use, let alone having water flow beneath them, after a cement lined ditch is dug, channeling Trinity River water to create the imaginary island.

This latest Star-Telegram article about those hapless hopeless bridges and the Boondoggle of which they are only part, contains multiple instances of Star-Telegram type nonsense. Let's start with the first paragraph...

Work on the downtown Fort Worth bridges, needed for the Panther Island project, has moved swiftly enough that officials now say two of the three spans may be done slightly early.

Work has moved swiftly enough that officials now say two of the three bridges may be done slightly early? Swiftly enough? It's been six years. If the completion is already two years behind the original timeline  how can finishing any of them, at any point in time, now be remotely considered to be slightly early?

Well, that question is sort of answered by the paragraph which follows the first..

Of course, early at this point is still behind the original completion date and a later delayed schedule, but Doug Rademaker, a senior project manager for the city, said work on bridges for Henderson and North Main streets is moving faster than expected.

Okay, now we are saying we are behind the original completion date, as well as behind the later delayed schedule, but work on two of the bridges is moving faster than expected. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

And then there is this perplexing sentence later in the article...

Traffic may be allowed on the bridges before they’re completely finished.

Did San Francisco allow traffic on the Golden Gate before it was finished? How about NYC's Brooklyn Bridge? Why would you allow traffic on an unfinished bridge?

From the following paragraph we learn the bridge construction has been a beehive of activity...

Contractor Texas Sterling increased workers on site to as many as 120, Rademaker said, and had been running three shifts seven days a week. Sunday shifts were recently canceled.

As many as 120 workers working in apparent slow motion, in three shifts, seven days a week, til recently.

And then there is this paragraph which raises questions...

Earlier this year, project managers increased the bridges’ $69.9 million budget to a little more than $89 million. The North Central Texas Council of Governments’ Regional Transportation Council approved the extra money in the form a $15 million federal transportation grant and another $5 million that will be paid back to the council of governments through a special tax district.

Okay, originally these three simple little bridges were projected to cost only $69.9 million, then increased by another $20 million. How much of that extra cost has come from having those 120 workers working years longer than the original project timeline projection? Why has there been no investigation looking into finding out why Fort Worth has been unable to build these three simple little bridges? Is it problems caused by J.D. Granger's interference insisting on those controversial V-Piers rather than the bridge supporting piers of which the Army Corps of Engineers approved?

And then there is the following...

The three bridges are needed for a $1.17 billion project that would create Panther Island by cutting a bypass between the two forks of the Trinity River as a means to control river flooding.

First off there has been a means to control river flooding in the area in question for well over a half century. This project is fixing a non-existent problem. Which is likely why the project has such trouble getting funding. It can't be sold to the public to vote on and approve of funding. The federal funders looking at it quickly find out it is an economic development scheme, poorly planned, ineptly implemented, which the rest of America should not be expected to pay for.

And please, please, please, drop the Panther Island nonsense.

Surrounding an industrial wasteland with a cement lined ditch does not an island make. It is only gonna end up being one more thing which causes Fort Worth's few tourists to giggle when they ask for an explanation.

Like where is Sundance Square? The answer to that one was an embarrassment for decades.

Where is Panther Island? Uh, it is what you come to when you cross one of those little bridges over that cement lined ditch. Are there panthers on the island? No. Why is it called Panther Island when there are no panthers. And it is not an actual island?

Anyone playing along with this nonsense is like that Emperor having no clothes fable, with the sheep going along with pretending the Emperor is finely dressed, when in reality he is walking around naked. Or, in the Fort Worth case, walking around with the sheep pretending to see a mighty fine island, when all there is is a chunk of wasteland accessed via three little bridges over extremely muddy water.

And one last amusing gem from this latest Star-Telegram article about America's Biggest Boondoggle. See if you can spot what the editor missed...

The progress has been a welcome site for business owners along White Settlement Road, which have taken a financial beating from the road closure, said Steve Metcalf, president of the White Settlement Road Development Task Force.

After six years of Boondoggling along I don't see how the word "progress" fits, let alone be some sort of welcome "sight"....


Steve A said...

At least Sundance Square didn't require JD Granger or the TRD or we'd STILL be waiting. Thanks for the update. More and more, this bridge business is starting to remind me of the Seattle Monorail extension project that was eventually killed.

Durango said...

At least with the Seattle Monorail extension project it never got off the starting ground, as in building it did not ever begin. If I remember right there were five ballot measures the public voted on which finally killed it. The Fort Worth saps have never been allowed to vote on their Vision mess.