Friday, June 25, 2021

Star-Telegram Wonders How Long Until Panther Island Becomes An Island


This morning a new article showed up in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about America's Biggest Boondoggle. By the end of this long article we learn the article was written by a new reporter, recently moved to Fort Worth, Emily Brindley, who the Star-Telegram is characterizing as an "investigative reporter".

This should be interesting. The Star-Telegram has not had one of those before, regarding anything to do with the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision, which has become, after limping along for years, America's Biggest Boondoggle.

The article is titled As another bridge opens, how long until Fort Worth’s Panther Island becomes an island?

Just the article's title raises red flags. Such as, even the article's title admits that that which has been called an island, is not an island. 

Let's go through this article and comment as we go along. The first paragraph...

Late this weekend, Fort Worth officials plan to open the new North Main Street bridge that leads to the eventual Panther Island — marking another step forward in a project that has been more than a decade in the making and is still years from completion.

First off, this project has been limping along this entire century. Just the building of the three simple little bridges is taking almost a decade. Is it not even remotely concerning that a project which originally was touted as being a vitally needed flood control/economic development scheme is still years from completion?

Clearly, not vitally needed.

The second paragraph...

But local officials say the many moving pieces of the project are beginning to align. With a new presidential administration, an impending federal infrastructure bill and the return of appropriations earmarks, officials say that federal funding could soon flow into the project and kick off the next big phase of construction.

Have we not heard this moving parts beginning to align propaganda before? There is actual vitally needed infrastructure work in America, including much work needed in Fort Worth, such as addressing actual, real, flooding issues in Fort Worth. Why would, or should the rest of America help pay for Fort Worth's inept Boondoggle after it has been so badly mismanaged for so many years?

Why should, or would, federal money flood into Fort Worth for this project when the voters of Fort Worth have never voted to approve this public works project? Let alone be asked to support a bond issue to pay for it, like towns wearing their Big City pants do.

The next two paragraphs are a doozy, followed by one of the photos from the Star-Telegram article illustrating the imaginary beautiful bridges...

Tarrant County administrator G.K. Maenius pointed to the bridges as evidence that “we’re finally seeing some results” — and he said he’s pleased with the aesthetics of those results, too.

“I don’t know if anyone realized just how beautiful those bridges are going to be,” he said. “I’m not a bridge guy, but even to me, they look pretty darn good.”

Yeah, that is one super beautiful bridge. And look at those signature V-Piers, which J.D. Granger insisted on, rather than the actual cool looking design of the West 7th Street Bridge over the Trinity River. Clearly this guy who admits he is not a bridge guy, has not seen any of the world's actual impressive signature type bridges. Maybe heading west and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge might be too much bother for education purposes, but this Tarrant County administrator could simply drive a short distance east, to Dallas, and see the two actual signature bridges over the Trinity River, which actually do look pretty darn good.

You reading this in non-Fort Worth America, you good with your tax dollars helping Fort Worth build this?  Moving on...

The creation of an island necessitates the digging of a new channel north of downtown Fort Worth, which would connect the Clear and West forks of the Trinity River and then connect the ends of a U-shaped bend in the Trinity River. The new channel would effectively create two islands, together called Panther Island.

This is the first I have read there will be two imaginary islands. Both called Panther Island. If there are two, shouldn't they be known as the Panther Islands? Like in my old home zone in Washington, where the dozen of islands in the San Juan Strait are known as the San Juan Islands. But those islands in Washington are real islands, not cut off from the mainland by a cement lined ditch.

Moving on...

And for access over the eventual channel, the Texas Department of Construction in 2014 began building the three bridges, which currently span dry land. At the time, officials said the bridges would be completed by 2018.

Texas Department of Construction? I have not heard of this Department before. Maybe the Star-Telegram's new investigative reporter can do some actual investigating to find out why it has taken so long to build three simple little bridges over dry land? With construction to be completed three years ago.

Moving on a couple paragraphs...

Officially, the $1.17 billion project is broken into two pieces: the flood control portion, which is known as the Central City project and primarily involves digging the 1.5-mile channel, and the economic development portion, which is known as the Panther Island project and primarily involves the development of the industrial land in the area.

Officially? When did this breaking the project into pieces thing officially happen? When America's Biggest Boondoggle began around the start of this century it was called Trinity Uptown. A few years later this became the Trinity River Vision. I saw Central City on signage in Gateway Park, years ago, far east from the area which does not need new flood control, because it has not flooded since well over a half century ago, due to flood prevention measures already in place. When did the economic development part of this scheme become known as the Panther Island Project? The Boondoggle has been sold as a flood control/economic development scheme from the start. Slapping the Panther Island label on this that and the other thing came around about the time J.D. Granger and the Trinity River Vision began hosting Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube Floats in the polluted Trinity River, labeling this as happening at Panther Island Pavilion. Where there is no island or pavilion, by any sane person's definition of either island or pavilion.

Skipping ahead a few exhausting paragraphs to the following doozy...

Officials have long said that it was cheaper and easier to build the bridges over dry land, and that the federal government would pay for the channel construction because it’s a flood control project.

Uh, if it was easier to build these three simple little bridges over dry land, why is the project years behind being completed? And, as has been pointed out many many times, there was no option other than to build the bridges over dry land. How could there be any other option? I mean, this entire project is rife with wanton stupidity, but it is hard to believe the stupidity could be so dumb as to dig a ditch, line it with cement, fill it with water. And then build bridges over it.

There has never been any other option than to build these bridges over dry land. How many times must this be repeated before the Star-Telegram ceases repeating this "cheaper and easier" nonsense?

The next paragraphs repeat the propaganda about securing federal funds, Kay Granger's failed role in doing so, the Trump administration refusing to help because the project has never done a comprehensive cost-benefit study and thus is not policy compliant, which then leads to hoping "the Biden administration will look more favorably on the Fort Worth project."

This article makes no mention of the fact Kay Granger's unqualified son, J.D., was hired as the Trinity River Vision's Executive Director, at a salary which has now gone over $200K, so as to motivate J.D.'s mother to secure those federal funds to secure J.D. a good paying job.

Why would the Biden administration look favorably at the Fort Worth project with all its baggage? There still has been no cost benefit study. The project is mired in mismanagement and project delays. The project wastes money on flood control where there has been no flooding for over half a century. Why would the Biden administration waste federal money on this Fort Worth boondoggle while the town ignores actual real flooding issues in other parts of the town?

Moving on deeper into this article...

Mark Mazzanti, a consultant on the flood control portion of the project and a 35-year veteran of the Army Corps of Engineers, said the federal government’s finite funding allocation means difficult decisions about which projects to fund. But he also said that the Panther Island/Central City project has “a number of strengths,” including support from locals, from Congress and from the Corps itself.

A number of strengths? If the locals support this boondoggle why have they never been allowed to vote on it? Like voting yes on a bond issue to pay for it. The amount of money we are talking about here is not that big for most big cities and their public works projects. What makes Fort Worth different? If this is such a good idea, such a brilliant scheme, such a well thought out and important project, why would those who want to make this happen not go to the voters and ask for their help by passing a bond issue to pay for the thing?

And then this...

Federal funding would mean that workers could begin on the new channel — first with final planning and then actual digging and construction.

Yes, federal funds would mean the planning for the ditch could be finalized with actual digging beginning. The same could have happened if years ago voters voted to support a bond issue to finance this vitally needed flood control and economic development scheme, which apparently really is not even remotely vitally needed, due to the backwards way Fort Worth has gone about actualizing the ill begotten project.

And then the following two paragraphs...

Even after federal funding comes through, it would likely be another eight to 10 years until the channel was actually completed, according to Buhman, the soon-to-be general manager of the water district.

That means that the channel would be finished — and Panther Island would actually become a full island — by 2030 at the earliest.

So, eight to 10 years after these three bridges are finally completely built over dry land, to connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island, the channel, actually ditch, will actually be completed. Yeah, this sounds like a really well thought out project that the federal government should jump right on and help to the max. Oh my, Panther Island might actually be a full imaginary island by 2030, after calling it Panther Island for two decades.

We are almost at the end of this article, two more paragraphs...

In the meantime, Buhman said, officials are focused on getting the land as ready as it can be for the channel. The water district is working on environmental cleanup of the Panther Island properties, he said, while the city moves and sets up utilities.

“We are shovel-ready for that channel and we’re still doing that prep work but I would say it is well on its way,” Buhman said. “And we are at the place that we are ready for that federal investment and for that construction.”

Really? What is the manifestation of those officials getting the land ready for the channel? Are they clearing the land of weeds and debris? What? How is the water district working on the environmental cleanup? Many have long thought that if this ever gets to the point where a lot of dirt is moving it will uncover a contamination level requiring an EPA Superfund cleanup. Shovel-ready and doing prep work? Again, what prep work does one do preparing to dig a ditch? It's well underway? As in how? Ready for that federal investment which likely will never come?

So, one can not help but wonder, if this new Star-Telegram 'investigative journalist" is the real thing.

Will she be doing some investigating to let us know, after all these years, why it has taken so long to build three simple little bridges? Will she look into what it is that J.D. Granger actually does to warrant being paid so much money? How about looking into the real reason J.D. Granger was hired? 

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