Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Has The Trinity River Vision Riveron Review Been Officially Rejected?

Last month, after perusing it, we came to the conclusion that the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle Riveron Review Needs A Forensic Audit.

That conclusion was reached due to there being some parts of the Riveron Review which seemed to be obviously tainted by self-serving "information" provided by, most likely, TRWD General Manager, Jim Oliver and TRVA Executive Director, J.D. Granger.

The Riveron Review cites input from the Army Corps of Engineers. But, in the list of who the Riveron Review reviewers interviewed, which shows up at the end of the Review, no one from the Army Corps of Engineers was interviewed. Just those responsible for the mess which has become an infamous Boondoggle, such as Oliver and Granger, and other perpetrators, were interviewed.

Those two had some explaining to do regarding the myriad problems which led to the demands for a forensic audit of the long-stalled imaginary flood control project.  There are three sections of the Riveron Review where it is obvious the Riveron Review interviewers were fed a load of self-serving propaganda, which apparently Riveron did not feel the need to question, or dig deeper.

Let's take a look at those three sections, one by one...


The Central City Flood Control Project 

The task force essentially considered three choices as proposed by the USACE:

Build the existing levees an additional 10 feet taller, requiring an additional 150 feet on each side of riverway, negatively impacting businesses and neighborhoods, and resulting in an even more inaccessible riverfront 

Build a 1.5 mile flood control bypass channel, which would be a very complicated, expensive, and ambitious project that would potentially transform the City and its relationship to the waterfront 

Do nothing and accept increased flood risk, damage and loss of people and property

The Trinity River Vision (TRV)* 

After public debate and agreement, federal, state and local government stakeholders and sponsors agreed to the initial USACE design for the three inter-related elements of the Central City Flood Control Project:
-The 1.5 Mile flood control Bypass Channel 
-The three Bridges at Henderson, Main, and White Settlement that will span the Bypass Channel 

-Clean up and ultimately enable future development and recreation in the area between the river and channel, known as Panther Island

Public debate? And agreement? Cite some evidence of that please.

Okay, after the Riveron Review was released locals with a functioning memory quickly pointed out Army Corps Of Engineer's Document Contradicts Controversial Riveron Review.

The Army Corps never suggested the levees be built 10 feet taller. And what businesses or neighborhood would have been impacted if such had happened? It's an industrial wasteland. The Boondogglers fed the Riveron Reviewers this propaganda because it is used to justify the diversion channel, which is key to their ill-conceived, ineptly implemented economic development scheme.

Do nothing and accept increased flood risk, damage and loss of people and property? The area in question has not flooded for well over half a century due to those levees already in existence. As we learned via the Army Corps of Engineer's document the existing levees could be brought up to post-Katrina standards for a few million bucks paying for some shoring up of the levees in a few locations.

Meanwhile, there are areas of Fort Worth and Tarrant County which do have increased flood risk, which have already suffered property damage, and have already drowned people, due to the failure to address those actual flood issues, whilst funds are wasted on an area where there is no legitimate flood risk.

And now on to the next element of wanton misinformation in the Riveron Review...

Sequencing a Capital Project 

Three bridges were designed for Main Street, Henderson Street, and White Settlement to span the eventual bypass channel. The bridge design was approved by the City, USACE, TXDOT and the TRVA Board. Bridge design work was done by the firm of Freese & Nichols and Rosales + Partners, and construction is being performed by Sterling under the direction of TXDOT and with the support and coordination from the City and TRVA, respectively.

It is critical to understand the complexity and sequencing of a project of this nature. There are multiple stakeholders working on what is essentially three projects: the bypass channel to provide flood control; the three bridges spanning the channel; the utility and other elements necessary to create habitable land in the island that is formed once the channel is in place. 

To safely and economically deliver this complex project, the bridges need to be essentially completed by the time the channel begins construction. This approach allows the project participants to sequence dependent activities among each other with a minimum of starts and stops to re-evaluate and re-design which would be required if building bridges over a completed, water-filled channel.

Take a moment to ponder the utter absurdity of the above three paragraphs from the Riveron Review. Basically they are repeating the nonsense that these three simple little bridges are being built over dry land, as if there was some other option, as if someone has somewhere suggested that the three bridges not be built til the cement ditch is dug and filled with water.

To safely and economically deliver this complex project the bridges needed to be built by the time the ditch gets dug? Again, as if there is any other option. And pretending this is by some grand design. Economically? The three simple little bridges are now in year five of being built in slow motion.

Clearly it is obvious a fully funded, correctly engineered project of this sort would have been building the bridges at the same time the ditch was built under the bridges. Now, if the bridges ever do get completely built, it does not take a whole lot of common sense to realize it complicates the ditch digging to dig under the bridges.

We have already seen a parking garage on the imaginary island fail due to a sinking foundation. It does not take much imagination to imagine the big OOOPS which will likely happen when/if that ditch gets dug under those bridges with their host of design problems.

Oh oh, we have a sinking V-pier.

Why did the Riveron Review interviewers accept this bill of goods they were being sold by the foxes  guarding the hen house?

And now on to the final element of wanton misinformation in the Riveron Review...

The 7th Street Bridge 

Unrelated to the Central City Flood Control Project, TXDOT was involved in another nearby effort to build the West 7th Street Bridge on the west side of downtown Fort Worth. 

Leveraging lessons learned from this effort, TXDOT approached the Central City Flood Control Project participants about leveraging the experience and design template for the West 7th Street Bridge to the bridges at Henderson, White Settlement and Main that will eventually span the channel. 

Initially the local government sponsor was responsible to pay for any budget overages and the State obligation would be capped. TXDOT made an offer to take on the obligation of budget overages if the local government sponsor would agree to use the 7th Street Bridge plans for all three of the new bridges. 

The USACE, in reviewing this proposed change, indicated that the design change would require formal USACE review and would require significant rework to the proposed design of both the bridges and bypass channel. Accepting the West 7th Street proposal was ultimately rejected for two reasons.  

-The design itself would impact and potentially weaken other structures and was not acceptable as presented.
-Any design change would also have triggered USACE requirements to study and evaluate the resulting flow, turbulence, and other hydrodynamic effects, likely adding years to the project timeline.

The above misinformation propaganda stems from what we learned way back in October of last year, which we blogged about in America's Biggest Boondoggle Unravels As Trinity River Vision Scandals Grow.

At that time we all learned, via a rare instance of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram doing some accurate reporting on the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle, in an article titled How a split between Rep. Kay Granger and her son changed Panther Island forever. that J.D. Granger interfered with his mother's economical plan to have the Boondoggle's three bridges be of the same design as the well regarded West 7th Street Bridge.

J.D. Granger was stung bad by this embarrassing revelation. Many thought this should have been the final straw which got him fired. But, a smoke screen of nonsense was thrown up. Among the misinformation J.D. Granger spewed in defense of his mistake was the claim that the West 7th Bridge had piers in the river. Which is not true, which is clearly illustrated in the America's Biggest Boondoggle Unravels As Trinity River Vision Scandals Grow.blog post.

For some reason renowned design expert, J.D. Granger got it in his frat boy head that V-piers would be just the ticket to make the channel promenade something special. Unlike that well regarded West 7th Street Bridge design.

Just a couple days ago we blogged about the decade old video of the Trinity River Vision model of the diversion ditch and the three bridges. That model does not show V-piers supporting the bridges.

J.D. Granger's V-piers have been a engineering nightmare. Which makes the two reasons the Riveron Review gives for the rejection of the West 7th Street Bridge design particularly specious and blatantly wrong.

Claiming the West 7th Street Bridge design would somehow impact and weaken other structures, and such a design change would require the Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate the design, you know, like what has been missing from the current project, which is one of the reasons for the cut off of federal funding.

And to claim using this obviously superior West 7th Street Bridge design, instead of the tacky V-pier design, would add years to the project timeline, well that claim is beyond embarrassingly stupid.

The V-pier design bridges are now in year five of slow motion construction, with the current project timeline having the bridges possibly completed in the next decade.

Yes, one can clearly see how using a proven good design, such as the West 7th Street Bridge design, already spanning a river channel, would take way way way way longer than J.D. Granger's  non-signature, non-iconic, V-pier bridges.

Has the West 7th Street Bridge weakened other structures near it? No? I didn't think so.

And once again let's repeat it is Time For J.D. Granger's Forensic Job Performance Review...

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