Background

What is the TRWD?

The Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) is the local government agency that provides water to customers within its district, manages water and flood protection systems, and manages the Trinity River Trails and other recreational areas. You can see a map of the district here: https://www.trwd.com/wp-content/uploads/TRWD-Voting-Boundary.pdf

TRWD provides water to the 2.1 million people living in the district, monitors water quality, and operates water pipelines, floodway levees, and reservoirs. It also manages several recreation areas, including Eagle Mountain Park and (in partnership with the city of Fort Worth) the Trinity Trails. The agency also administers the Trinity River Vision Authority, which is responsible for the Panther Island Project.

In order to fund its work, TRWD has the ability to levy taxes on property owners in the district. The current tax rates is 0.0194 cents per $100 property valuation.

What is the Trinity River Vision project?

The Trinity River Vision project (also known as the Panther Island project) is a $1.6 billion flood control and economic development project that seeks to rechannel the Trinity River and redevelop the area north of downtown Fort Worth. The publicly-funded project originated in 2000, and in 2003 the City of Fort Worth and other state and local agencies approved a master plan for the project. (https://urbanland.uli.org/industry-sectors/infrastructure-transit/rerouting-the-trinity-river/)

The Trinity River Vision Authority (TRVA), which oversees the project and coordinates the city, county, state, and federal agencies involved, was established in 2006. The project goals are: “[to] provide flood protection, urban revitalization, environmental cleanup, enhanced recreational opportunities and sustainable infrastructure improvements like new bridges and new/improved roads and trails.” (http://trinityrivervision.org/panther-island/project-goals/)

The main elements of the project are:

  • Flood control infrastructure: a 1.5 mile bypass channel; three v-pier bridges over the bypass channel, for access to/from Panther island; a new dam; three new flood gates; and valley water storage areas.
  • Panther Island urban revitalization: creates 12 miles of riverfront area, designed for mixed-use development. The TRVA projects over 10,000 housing units and over 3 million square feet of commercial, retail, and educational space in the area.
  • Gateway Park: environmental remediation, expansion, and redevelopment, to include an outdoor amphitheater, dog park, sports fields, kayak/boating amenities, a 33-acre lake, and other recreational amenities.

Who runs the Trinity River Vision project, and why is TRWD involved?

The Trinity River Vision Authority, a government agency, is responsible for managing the project. The TRWD is involved because it is the agency responsible for the area’s flood control levee system. Other government partners are: City of Fort Worth; Tarrant County; Texas Department of Transportation; and US Army Corps of Engineers.

The TRVA board is appointed by its local government partners. Two representatives of TRWD currently serve on the TRVA board. (https://trinityrivervision.org/about-us/).

Administratively, the TRVA is a subdivision of the TRWD; Trinity River Vision staff are employed by TRWD.

How is the Trinity River Vision project funded?

As of March 2019, the total project cost is estimated at $1.16 billion. Funding for the project comes from several sources.

Federal funds

In 2016 the US Congress passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2016, which fully authorized the Trinity River Vision project for up to $526 million in federal funds. However, these funds must be allocated by Congress over time, in separate spending bills. https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article220810145.html

As of December 2018, the project has received just under $63 million from the federal government. Of this money, about $36.3 million has funded construction of the overflow basins in Gateway Park and about $19.5 million funded bypass channel-related work. https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article227084154.html

State and local funds

As of December 2018, the project has received about $324 million from local funds, including the city of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and the TRWD. This total includes $88 million for land acquisition, $34 million for the local share of the bridge work, and $33 million for environmental cleanup (overseen by TRWD). Additional funds for the bridge work (which totals $65 million) come from the Texas Department of Transportation. https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article227084154.html

https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article195644359.html

https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article224565575.html

In May 2018, TRWD district voters passed a $250 million bond proposal. Although the bond measure did not refer to the Trinity River Vision project by name, the money is designated for flood control and drainage facilities, and will be used for infrastructure improvements (including project work not funded by the federal government, such as storm water drainage on Panther Island). https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article227084154.html

Current status of the Trinity River Vision project

In October 2018, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced that no funding had been allocated for the project in the 2019 budget. At the time, a spokesperson for the Corps stated that the reason was the lack of an economic analysis. Others suggested that the project was considered a lower priority in comparison with other spending needs, such as storm damage from Hurricane Harvey. (https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article220508245.html, https://www.star-telegram.com/news/politics-government/article219100860.html)  

in April 2019 the Board agreed that the review will be conducted by the consultant firm Riverion for an estimated cost of about $460,000. https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article229065469.html

https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article222660840.html https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article227084154.html

https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article225609690.html

News Articles

“Panther Island will pay $460,000 for project review,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Apr 10, 2019) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article229065469.html

“Are the Fort Worth Cats coming back to a restored LaGrave Field?” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Apr 9, 2019) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article229023774.html

“Army Corps officials stumped on how to finish Panther Island,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Mar 28, 2019) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article228534399.html

“What’s going on with Panther Island? Fort Worth readers have questions,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Mar 5, 2019) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article227084154.html

“Panther Island hiccups: Only one firm interested in review of $1.16B Fort Worth project,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Feb 6, 2019) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article225609690.html

“She’s back,” Fort Worth Weekly (Jan 30, 2019) https://www.fwweekly.com/2019/01/30/shes-back/

“When will those Panther Island bridges be open? Not as soon as commuters might hope” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Jan 19, 2019) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article224565575.html

“Trinity River Vision Authority review won’t be ready in time for next round of funding” Fort Worth Business Press (Jan 10, 2019) http://www.fortworthbusiness.com/news/trinity-river-vision-authority-review-won-t-be-ready-in/article_b71daf96-151c-11e9-a0fa-5be103145675.html

“Here’s why the Panther Island review has no price tag,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Jan 10, 2019) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article224229685.html

“TRVA RFP for review” Fort Worth Business Press (Dec 12, 2018) http://www.fortworthbusiness.com/news/government/trva-rfp-for-review/article_83db1056-fe29-11e8-9148-a7264628c892.html

“As Trinity River Vision Plan Blurs, Organizers Spend Tax Dollars on Trolley Car Concept,” nbcdfw.com (Dec 10, 2018) https://www.nbcdfw.com/investigations/As-Trinity-River-Vision-Plan-Blurs-Organizers-Spend-Tax-Dollars-on-Trolley-Car-Concept-502405171.html

“The Panther Island project is getting a deep look, but its CEO won’t be scrutinized,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Dec 5, 2018) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article222660840.html

“It’s a $1B project, but Panther Island’s head honcho has never had a written job review,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Nov 29, 2018) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article222309330.html

“Officials say Panther Island is on track. But it needs a lot of money soon,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Nov 27, 2018) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article222216255.html

“Inside Fort Worth’s Panther Island: ‘This Looks Terrible,’ Former State Lawmaker Says,” nbcdfw.com (Nov 19, 2018) https://www.nbcdfw.com/investigations/Inside-Fort-Worths-Panther-Island-This-Looks-Terrible-Former-State-Lawmaker-Says-500870131.html

“Leaders On Fort Worth’s Trinity River Vision Discuss Billion Dollar Project,” dfw.cbslocal.com (Nov 13, 2018) https://dfw.cbslocal.com/2018/11/13/leaders-discuss-trinity-river-vision/

“Records Show Feds Raised Doubts About Funding Fort Worth’s Panther Island for at Least a Decade,” nbcdfw.com (Nov 8, 2018) https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/With-Millions-of-Flood-Control-Dollars-at-Stake-Will-Ft-Worths-Panther-Island-Stay-Afloat-500095221.html

“Review of $1.16 billion Panther Island project is happening. But when?” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Nov 7, 2018) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article221312780.html

“Roiling on the River,” (Oct 31, 2018) Fort Worth Weekly https://www.fwweekly.com/2018/10/31/roiling-on-the-river/

“Tarrant water district tells Panther Island to consider review of project,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Oct 30, 2018) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article220810145.html

“Why Panther Island might struggle to get federal funding,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Oct 26, 2018) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article220508245.html

“Fort Worth City Council backs mayor’s request for an audit of Panther Island” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Oct 23, 2018) https://www.star-telegram.com/latest-news/article220505450.html

“How a split between Rep. Kay Granger and her son changed Panther Island forever,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Oct 19, 2018) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/business/growth/article220286220.html

“North Texas neighborhoods are flooding more than ever before. Why?” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Oct 12, 2018) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article219740795.html

“Can Panther Island work without federal funds? Maybe, if Fort Worth plays the long game,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Oct 2, 2018) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/business/growth/article219361515.html

“Fort Worth’s $1B Panther Island project quietly cut from 2018 federal budget,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Oct 2, 2018) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/politics-government/article219100860.html

“Deal to reopen Fort Worth Cats’ LaGrave Field full of dreams, but is there money?”  [opinion] Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Jul 21, 2018) https://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/bud-kennedy/article215285735.html

LaGrave Field just got a new lease on life. Will the Fort Worth Cats play again?” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Jul 17, 2018) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article215020995.html

“Fort Worth’s Panther Island, river project gain speed, but why no voters?” [editorial] Fort Worth Star-Telegram (May 6, 2018) https://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/bud-kennedy/article210562449.html

“Voters OK plan to spend $250 million in bonds on Panther Island,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (May 5, 2018) https://www.star-telegram.com/article210132799.html

‘What will $250 million bond for Panther Island project mean for property taxes?” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Apr 15, 2018) http://www.star-telegram.com/news/business/growth/article208323074.html

“Buddy, can you spare a billion?” Fort Worth Weekly (Apr 11, 2018) https://www.fwweekly.com/2018/04/11/buddy-can-you-spare-a-billion/  

“Why is Panther Island’s price tag soaring?” [editorial], Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Feb 14, 2018) http://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/editorials/article199663009.html

“Panther Island is a cool project, but will Fort Worth voters pay $250 million for it?” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Feb. 7, 2018) http://www.star-telegram.com/news/business/growth/article198865664.html

“Trinity River Vision Costs Could Climb Over $1 Billion with Bond Referendum,” NBCDFW.com (Feb. 5, 2018)  https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Trinity-River-Vision-Costs-Could-Climb-Over-1-Billion-with-Bond-Referendum-472862033.html

“Play ball? There’s a new plan to bring baseball back to LaGrave Field,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Aug 25, 2017) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article169328632.html

“Rerouting the Trinity River,” Urbanland (Oct 3, 2016) https://urbanland.uli.org/industry-sectors/infrastructure-transit/rerouting-the-trinity-river/

“A never-ending thirst: Exploring Tarrant County’s quest for water,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (May 16, 2016) https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article77997407.html

“Unleashing a Flood of Questions,” Fort Worth Weekly (June 15, 2011)  https://www.fwweekly.com/2011/06/15/unleashing-a-flood-of-questions/

“Troubled Waters,” Fort Worth Weekly (Dec. 13, 2006) http://archive.fwweekly.com/content.asp?article=4454