November 30, 2004  


Trinity River Uptown Gets Congressional Approval


FORT WORTH, TEXAS– Congresswoman Kay Granger announced Sunday that Congress approved federal participation in the Trinity River Vision Master Plan project, also called "Trinity Uptown," which will transform the Trinity River into a centerpiece of Fort Worth and surrounding communities.

Over the weekend, Congress authorized $110 million in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction funding for the Trinity Uptown project. This was a vital step in assuring that the $360 million vision becomes a reality for the citizens of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

The authorization was part of the $388 billion federal appropriations bill passed by Congress for the upcoming fiscal year. This vote makes the Trinity Uptown vision an official project for the Corps of Engineers over the next few years.

The Corps of Engineers is now authorized to participate in financing an urban waterfront north of downtown Fort Worth in an area that is called the Trinity Uptown. The project will include flood control, urban waterfront areas, continuous public access trails, environmental restoration, open spaces and transportation improvements.

Locally, the Tarrant Regional Water District has financed and coordinated the Trinity Plan. The Streams and Valleys Committee has provided support and vision for the plan. The City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and Tarrant County College have been supportive and involved in the planning, and now in the implementation of the project.

Granger hails the vote as an "endorsement" by Congress of local efforts to transform the Trinity River.

"What makes Fort Worth and Tarrant County so successful is the willingness of all of these local governments to cooperate and work together for the good of the citizens," Granger said. "This is what distinguishes Fort Worth from most other communities and is the major reason why Congress was willing to be a partner in the project."

"The Trinity Uptown Plan is now an official plan of city, county and federal governments," she said.

"This is a community plan to make the river an integral part of our city. Now the federal government has joined with the City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, the Tarrant Regional Water District and a host of others to make a dream a reality," Granger added.

"The Trinity River Vision Master Plan offers a rare opportunity. It will bring much needed economic development opportunities and it will transform the river into a natural asset that all Tarrant County residents can enjoy," she stated.

"In 20 years, I expect the unsightly and mostly vacant land between Downtown Fort Worth and Northside Drive to be replaced by a vibrant area where people live, work, play, learn, and shop," Granger predicted. "The downtown that we know and love today will double in size and it will be a great place, positively influencing every part of Fort Worth. Throughout the rest of the community, the river will be an amenity rather than a blight."

Senator John Cornyn, R-TX, a key Senate supporter of the Trinity River Vision Plan said, "This important project will provide both flood control and increased economic development to Fort Worth and I’m encouraged by the decision to authorize its funding. Congresswoman Kay Granger was a tireless advocate of this effort to grow good jobs. She recognized the benefits of this plan from the beginning and we will continue working together through its completion."

The larger Trinity River Vision Master plan is described as "a master plan for the Trinity River and its tributaries in the Greater Fort Worth area." The plan’s goal "is to preserve and enhance the river corridors so that they remain as essential greenways for open space, trails, neighborhood focal points, wildlife, and special recreation areas." The plan says the river "corridors are critical elements in preserving environmental quality and a high quality of life that attracts people to locate and stay in Fort Worth. Downtown waterfront initiatives will help accomplish a renaissance of the greater Downtown area that results in a sustainable mix of people living, working, playing, and learning in the Central City area."

Granger said by employing a variety of techniques, "we will, at once, maintain our river flood management capacity, while also restoring much of the river back to a natural look."

Planned improvements include:

· Building 60 new miles of trails to compliment the 40 or so miles in place or under construction

· 32 trail heads give resident easy access to the river

· 40 neighborhood links

· Five canoe landings

· An urban lake

· 1,400 acres of nature interpretive areas

· And 4,800 acres of naturalized areas

The local portion of the funds for the Trinity Uptown improvements will come from a tax increment finance district created by the City of Fort Worth last year and which includes Tarrant County, Tarrant County College and the Tarrant Regional Water District. The regional water district also has allocated $44 million for improvements to the river over the course of the next few years.

In addition to authorizing the Corps of Engineers to proceed with the project, Congress’ Fiscal Year 2005 Omnibus Appropriations bill included more than $2 million for various aspects of the project.

Specifically, the bill includes $500,000 to continue improving neighborhood access to the Trinity River and $725,000 in economic development funds to go towards design and construction. The bill also includes $950,000 for the Corps of Engineers’ Upper Trinity River Basin study. Much of this funding will provide for design, planning, and completing the environmental impact statement for the Trinity Uptown Project.