Work on the bridges connecting downtown Fort Worth to the planned Panther Island development have been delayed about a month because of a change order involving the use of steel rebar in the concrete piers. Gordon Dickson Star-Telegram
Work on the bridges connecting downtown Fort Worth to the planned Panther Island development have been delayed about a month because of a change order involving the use of steel rebar in the concrete piers. Gordon Dickson Star-Telegram

Fort Worth

Design problem delays work on Panther Island bridges in Fort Worth

March 21, 2016 1:04 PM

FORT WORTH

The construction of three bridges over dry land north of downtown Fort Worth is being delayed as officials fix a design problem that was noticed as workers began to pour the concrete piers.

The delay involves a miscalculation in the amount of steel that would be needed to reinforce the structure’s piers, a Texas Department of Transportation spokesman said. However, the problem is being addressed and should only cause about a month-long postponement of bridge work, said Val Lopez, TxDOT spokesman.

When completed, the bridges will span over what officials hope will be a new Trinity River channel creating Panther Island, an 800-acre development in a former industrial area that could become pristine, waterfront property. The project includes construction of new bridges along Henderson Street, White Settlement Road and North Main Street, and the re-channeling of the river under those structures.

Construction is scheduled to continue through 2018.

It’s a novel design, and we want to make sure we execute it as best we can so we can deliver the highest quality project possible.

Val Lopez, Texas Department of Transportation spokesman

The change order involves the amount of steel needed to reinforce the concrete piers that hold up the bridges, Lopez said. He declined to say how much the change order might add to the project cost, saying that figure was still being determined.

Previously, $65.5 million was budgeted for the bridge portion of the project.

“What we are addressing is adjusting the spacing of the reinforced steel in the piers to simplify the pouring of concrete into it,” Lopez said in an email. “It’s a novel design, and we want to make sure we execute it as best we can so we can deliver the highest-quality project possible.”

Lopez emphasized that the delay would only last for about a month, and in the meantime workers were continuing with other aspects of the job.

“We haven’t stopped construction on the project at all,” Lopez said in a phone interview. “We’ll be out there working on those piers again in probably a month’s time.”

Trinity River bridges taking shape

Fort Worth's signature V-shaped bridges are under construction and will eventually span the expanded river channel for the Trinity River Vision project

rmallison@star-telegram.com

Traffic switch

While work on the Henderson and White Settlement bridges has been underway for months — and a traffic circle connecting the bridges has been built north of downtown — construction on a third bridge that is part of the Panther Island project is scheduled to begin this spring.

That third bridge is on a dry-land portion of North Main Street, between downtown and the Stockyards. Beginning in early April, North Main Street will be closed and traffic will be detoured to a parallel path, Commerce Street, between Northeast Seventh and 11th streets.

The area is just north of the Coyote Drive-In theater and adjacent to LaGrave Field sports park.

$910 million Expected cost of Panther Island development, including Trinity River re-channeling.

That detour will be in place likely until early 2018, said Matt Oliver, spokesman for Trinity River Vision Authority, the organization master-planning the Panther Island project.

Access to Main Street businesses will be maintained, and traffic headaches should be minimal. However, the detour will include only one lane of travel in each direction, so minor delays during peak travel periods are possible.

Saving money

Critics have questioned whether the $910 million project, designed to transform the near north side across the river from downtown, will ever get enough money to become a reality.

But supporters have maintained that the construction of the bridges is proof that the ambitious task is officially underway.

The bridges are being built on dry land to save funds, as officials continue to put together the funding, planning and design necessary for the construction of the 1.8-mile Trinity River bypass channel.

Trinity River Vision officials say the timeline shows the project completed by 2023, although supporters have acknowledged that the schedule could be extended if federal funding slows. Congress is expected to cover about half the cost.

The project is considered crucial not only for economic development in a long-ignored part of the city, but also for flood control. The bypass channel would divert the Trinity near the convergence of the West Fork and the Clear Fork, taking flood waters through the near north side and east to the Riverside oxbow flood storage areas near Gateway Park.

In Gateway Park, the city is spending about $5 million on improvements by the end of the year.

So far, about $244 million has been spent on Trinity River Vision: $222.3 million from a variety of local sources and about $21.7 million in federal money appropriated to the Army Corps of Engineers. An additional $70.4 million has come from the Texas Department of Transportation and the North Texas Council of Governments.

Trinity River Vision officials say the timeline shows the project completed by 2023, although supporters have acknowledged that the schedule could be extended if the federal funding flows slowly.

To complete the project will require a $340 million appropriation to the Corps of Engineers.

In the meantime, the Trinity River Vision Authority is promoting development of areas such as the Coyote Drive-In, and hosting about 44 events per year at the Panther Island Pavilion. Those measures are partly to generate revenue, but also to establish Panther Island as a destination for entertainment, and eventually shopping, working and living.

Staff writer Bill Hanna contributed to this report, which includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.

Gordon Dickson: 817-390-7796, @gdickson

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