Fort Worth

Panther Island critic: ‘Worst managed public project in ... Texas, if not the nation’

Trinity River Vision Authority

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Clyde Picht was never a fan of plans to re-route the Trinity River.

But he served on the Fort Worth City Council when the plans — known as Trinity River Vision, and later the Panther Island project — were presented to the city.

He didn’t vote against it when the project was proposed as a $360 million effort to convert the Trinity River’s downtown banks into a bustling waterfront.

But he opposed it from then on — and spoke out against it — as the cost kept rising.

“I thought this was a big waste of money and wasn’t for flood control to begin with,” said Picht, who served on the council from 1997 to 2005.

Former City Councilman Chuck Silcox, who died in 2008, also was a vocal opponent.

“We’ve got other things that need this money,” he said in 2003 when he voted against the project.

That’s a sentiment apparently shared by others, now that the project to reroute the river is no longer a top contender for federal funding. The Star-Telegram reported Tuesday that the Army Corps of Engineers has excluded the project from its budget.

“This was a bad deal early on,” Picht said. “It’s probably the worst managed public project in the state of Texas, if not the nation.”

He said he’s not surprised if flooded areas from Houston to the Carolinas take precedent.

“This is what we get when we have pie-in-the-sky projects and there’s no real truth in the plan and how they are going to do it,” Picht said. “I don’t think it will get completed to the extent that it brings us what we were told it would bring in the beginning.

“I told you so.”

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley
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