If you’re a skeptic, the groundbreaking event this week for the latest phase of the Panther Island project was little more than a celebration of building bridges to nowhere.
Local officials gathered Monday, to kick off the construction of three signature bridges — along Henderson Street, North Main Street and White Settlement Road — which at present will be built over dry land.
“We’re digging this over dry land because it’s half the cost of building it over the channel,” said Mayor Betsy Price.
And if you use your imagination — or vision, as some would have it — the ultimate plan to develop an urban waterfront community that will include a 33-acre lake, an 800-acre island, canals and riverwalks lined with shops, restaurants, museums, residences and businesses, is finally beginning to unfold.
That’s no small feat, considering the Trinity River Vision — an almost $910 million economic development and flood control project that will effectively change the face of downtown — was approved by the Fort Worth City Council a decade ago, in cooperation with the county and the principal partner, the Tarrant Regional Water District.
Earlier this year, the council approved $6.63 million in funding for the bridge phase of the project. While that investment is substantial, it’s a small portion of the total project cost.
But it’s also a fraction of the more than $600 million in economic development activity the Trinity River Vision Authority says the project will generate during the first decade alone. Still, only half of the $910 million needed to complete the vision in its entirety has been secured.
That uncertainty feeds the skeptics who raise doubts about committing to a project that may never have the resources needed to complete it.
Fort Worth Congresswoman Kay Granger says she’s confident that Congress will fund the remaining costs largely through grants from several U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funds.
If she’s right, these bridges should lead the city to a brighter economic future.