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Army Corps OKs expanding Trinity Uptown to east side

FORT WORTH -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wednesday formally approved expanding the Trinity Uptown project on the city's near north side to include about 1,000 acres on the city's east side, dramatically changing the project's scope and boosting its overall price tag.

The plan, approved at the corps' Washington, D.C., headquarters, incorporates two major city projects -- Gateway Park and the Riverside Oxbow Ecosystem Restoration area — into the Trinity Uptown project, which encompasses about 800 acres on the city's near north side.

The project's latest estimated cost is $576 million, based on 2007 dollars.

"The project is a better project with the addition of Gateway Park," said J.D. Granger, executive director of the Trinity River Vision Authority. "Both the east and the southeast parts of Fort Worth will get an incredible asset."

Granger has said that work could begin on Gateway Park this year.

Tarrant County Administrator G.K. Maenius said the federal government approval moves "from a possibility to a probability" that Gateway will be developed.

"It's a really good thing for the east side of Fort Worth," said Maenius, who also is president of the Trinity River Vision Authority board. "Gateway is something everyone will be proud of once it is developed. I think we will create a tremendous amount of synergy with the combining of both projects into one master project."

Fort Worth asked the corps to change Trinity Uptown's boundaries after the Riverside Oxbow and Gateway projects stalled. The proposal called for moving the "valley storage" areas for floodwaters from the west side to the east side.

In the new environmental impact statement, the corps recommends essentially consolidating three projects. Trinity Uptown: This project includes a Trinity River bypass channel, canals and a town lake. In 2004, Congress agreed to provide only half the money for a project costing $220 million. Later estimates put the project’s costs at $435 million.

The Riverside Oxbow Ecosystem Restoration area: This 600-acre project along Interstate 30 is where the agency wanted to spend $24 million to put the Trinity River back into its original channel and return the area to a natural state. Congress never funded it.

Gateway Park: For years the city has wanted to expand this 500-acre park from Beach Street to Oakland Boulevard along the West Fork of the Trinity River. The city has secured $4.5 million in state and local grants for that purpose.