To the delight of many readers, and residents of Fort Worth’s Westside, the White Settlement Rd. Bridge opened to trafﬁc at the beginning of this month. Now that the much – anticipated bridge is open to trafﬁc, it has many people asking, what’s next for the project? I called JD Granger, Executive Director of the Panther Island / Central City Flood Project, to ﬁnd out.
Q: The White Settlement Bridge offers a great connection to downtown for this area but there are two other bridges still under construction, what’s the timetable on those?
A: It’s exciting, The White Settlement Bridge just opened providing both immediate relief to the congestion on W. 7th and, an even greater beneﬁt, it bridges the railroad that has caused headaches for all of us that drive between downtown and the near Westside. But the progress doesn’t end there. TxDOT and the City of Fort Worth have made great strides on the other two bridges, too. The North Main St. Bridge is expected to open early this summer and the Henderson St. Bridge is opening this fall. All three bridges will be open to trafﬁc by the end of 2021, which will allow the project to move into the next phase of construction.
Q: It’s the end of 2021 and all three bridges are open to trafﬁc, what does that next phase of construction look like?
A: All three bridges will open this year; however, the contract or will not be fully complete with all details until early-to-mid next year. That’s important because the project can’t move into the next phase of construction until all three bridges are completed and TxDOT’s contractor is completely off the site. Once that happens then the Corps of Engineers can move forward with their part, the bypass channel. The bypass channel is a 1. 5 mile reroute of the existing Trinity River that will run under all three new bridges. The channel is the Corps’ solution to Fort Worth’s outdated levee system.
Q: Is ﬂood protection needed on Fort Worth’s Westside?
A: Yes. Fort Worth’s Westside has a history of ﬂooding. The most notable was the ﬂood of 1949 which devastated neighborhoods along the Trinity River and killed 13 people. The bypass channel will provide ﬂood relief to almost 2,000 acres of Westside neighborhoods including parts of Crestwood, West 7th, the Cultural District, Burton Hill, Linwood, and River Oaks valued at over $2 billion. However, in addition to the ﬂood protection that the Corps Central City Flood Project will provide, the separate, but concurrent, full build out of Panther Island by the private sector will provide a Riverwalk district in the heart of our city that will contribute over $3. 7 billion in annual economic activity.
Q: Could you expand on the difference between the Corp bypass channel and the Panther Island Riverwalk?
A: Thank you for asking. There is an important distinction which has been a point of confusion. The Corps, with federal funds, is building the bypass channel because it solves ﬂood risks throughout Fort Worth. That is going to happen with or without the growth of the Panther Island neighborhood. Panther Island is a new neighborhood that is going to grow with or without the bypass channel because of its proximity to downtown. There is no federal money in the Panther Island neighborhood revitalization. Both efforts are happening concurrently. Panther Island is happening as we speak. Encore Panther Island is a 300 – unit apartment complex being built by Encore Enterprises that is scheduled to open late summer. It is a unique multi-family project in Fort Worth because the very ﬁrst section of the Panther Island Riverwalk runs right through the middle of the complex. The canal provides much needed stormwater infrastructure for the neighborhood, while at the same time providing a beautiful new public Riverwalk right along the water’s edge. The Panther Island Riverwalk is a model public – private venture. It is ﬁnanced by the developers in the area, yet it saves the City of Fort Worth upwards of $14 million on infrastructure costs because the canals serve as the City’s main stormwater arterials. They Panther Island Riverwalk is not federally funded and doesn’t cost the taxpayers of Fort Worth a dime. Yet, they will love it and it will make them proud.
Q: When we have questions about the project, where can we go?
A: The project website, PantherIslandCC.com, has weekly blogs, quarterly construction updates and bi-annual newsletters. The social media channels give you up to date information, you can ﬁnd us on Facebook and Instagram at @PantherIslandcc and on Twitter at @PantherIsland, as its happening and if you’re looking for a more in depth overview, schedule a presentation. We have already given over 700 project overviews.