Val Lopez, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation, said what may be the only positive thing he could have said about the stalled work on three bridges for the Panther Island development north of downtown Fort Worth.
“We want to make sure we do this right,” Lopez told Star-Telegram reporter Gordon Dickson.
But the fact remains that construction of the bridges started almost a year ago and was halted about three months later. They may not be finished until 2019, a year behind schedule.
The bridges for North Main Street, Henderson Street and White Settlement Road are being built on dry land before the Trinity River is re-channeled under them to create an 800-acre island.
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It’s part of the Trinity River Vision project, a $910 million flood control and economic development effort.
Other than Lopez, most of the people with direct knowledge of the bridge problem don’t want to talk about it.
That’s understandable. After all, Trinity River Vision still has its share — maybe more than its share — of vocal opponents.
Nobody involved wants to say the bridges weren’t being done right in the first place, but you don’t stop in the middle of a project like this unless somebody thinks something is wrong.
“These are the kinds of modifications that can occur all of the time on a project this size,” said Lopez.
Really? Nothing like this seemed to happen with construction on the new Seventh Street bridge. Same with an overabundance of freeway and toll lane construction across Tarrant County and even the buildings and parking garages being built downtown.
But the design of the Panther Island bridges is unique. Maybe the abundance-of-caution argument means they must go through repeated engineering and design.
Panther Island/Trinity River Vision can’t afford many missteps. Too many people already see it as an extremely expensive boondoggle.
Congress has authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to spend $520 million on the project, more than half its cost.
Some work around the bridges has been completed. Perhaps the rest will go smoothly once it’s restarted.