NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Dallas Levee Plan Gets Tentative Nod

By BJ Austin, KERA News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-960840.mp3

Dallas, TX – Dallas officials call the tentative approval of the city's plan to "fix" the levees a "turning point" in the Trinity River development project - and a money-saver. KERA's BJ Austin reports.

Trinity River corridor Project committee Chair, Councilman Dave Neumann says the tentative approval of the levee remediation plan by the Corps of Engineers takes the big Trinity River project off "hold" - where it's been since the levees failed inspection in 2009.

Neumann: This recertification, clearly, will unlock the goal of bringing nationally acclaimed parks, lakes, trails and opportunities to our citizens.

Officials with the Trinity Trust Foundation say they'll kick-start new fundraising of private money for the project now - anticipating final Corps approval in July.

Corps of Engineers Colonel R.J. Muraski is optimistic, but a bit cautious.

Muraski: Approval of the proposed levee remediation plan cannot be guaranteed. Let me repeat that; cannot be guaranteed until all the reviews are complete. However, we are very encouraged by the data and the preliminary information that we have received to date from the city.

The issue of stricter flood protection standards and levee integrity after Hurricane Katrina was one of several setbacks and delays in the two billion dollar Trinity River project, first approved by voters in 1998.

New soil tests were better than expected. Consequently, the city needs only three miles of expensive, concrete cut-off walls to prevent water seepage instead of ten miles. That will save at least 50 million dollars in 2006 bond money and Dallas Water Utilities money.

City officials say the levee remediation, expected to be complete in December, will also save money for nearby property owners. They no longer have to worry about devalued property and buying expensive flood insurance because they were added into the FEMA floodplain because of sub-standard levees.

Email BJ Austin