In The News

New Trinity River bridge designs will trim project costs

by Bill Hanna | Apr 27, 2010

FORT WORTH -- After scrapping the Bing Thom-designed bridges last year because they were deemed too costly, Fort Worth officials unveiled a new V-pier design for the Trinity River Vision Project that they say can be built on time and within budget.

 

The three bridges on Henderson Street, North Main Street and White Settlement Road will be built in two-year increments and are projected to cost $65 million.

 

When land acquisition, relocation costs, environmental cleanup and design expenses are added, the total is projected to be $110 million, a savings of more than $45 million over the Bing Thom-designed bridges. That $110 million is what was budgeted in the overall $909 million budget for the project, said Mark Rauscher, a senior assistant to the city manager.

 

The bridges do not replace existing ones over the Trinity River -- they will span the project's bypass channel that will be completed after the bridges are built.

 

The bridge designs must receive final approval from the Texas Department of Transportation, but Miguel Rosales, the bridge architect, said officials have already been working with the department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is building Central City, the federal portion of Trinity River Vision.

 

Construction on the Henderson Street bridge is expected to begin around the end of 2011. The North Main Street bridge is scheduled to begin in 2013, and the White Settlement Road bridge in 2015.

 

"If you can get at least one of the bridges built, you really can make a huge statement," Rosales said. "You'll start to see where the channel will go. Right now, it's very hard to imagine, but once you get the first bridge done, it will really change the environment."

 

Earmark funding

Rosales, who is based in Boston, has won awards for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge over the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., and the Liberty Pedestrian Bridge in Greenville, S.C. He said the Fort Worth bridge designs mimic the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and other newer structures, such as the Omni Hotel downtown.

 

Normally, Rosales would take as long as two years to design a bridge, but he was hired for the Trinity River Vision bridges in January.

 

"This is pretty accelerated, actually," Rosales said. "Here, there was a limitation on the costs. That was a big constraint. I tried to find a design that will be attractive but still within the cost guidelines."

 

The city has about $33 million from local and federal sources, more than enough to build the Henderson Street bridge.

 

Officials remain confident that they can obtain the additional funding even though the project's biggest supporter, U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, has joined the House Republican pledge not to seek earmarks this year.

 

Trinity River Vision officials have said they will seek funding through Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Senate Republicans have not joined the pledge to forgo earmarks.

 

Iconic look

Two of the planned bridges, at North Main and Henderson, will include space for streetcar lines if the city eventually adds a streetcar system.

 

The bridges will have two lanes of traffic each way, plus a divided bike lane and a pedestrian-only sidewalk. The intent, Rosales said, is to encourage people to get out of their vehicles and use other modes of transportation.

 

The city , which is a partner in the Trinity River Vision Project along with Tarrant County and the Tarrant Regional Water District, is responsible for the local costs of the bridge project.

 

J.D. Granger, executive director of Trinity River Vision, praised the new bridge designs. Granger is the son of Kay Granger.

 

"The city of Fort Worth and the design team have successfully delivered a tough task," J.D. Granger said in statement. "Fort Worth deserves unique bridges that will make our citizens proud for generations to come, but not at the expense of our current generation."

 

The bridges were being presented to a residents advisory panel Tuesday night.

 

One member of the advisory group, Stephen Darrow, principal at DMS Architects Inc., said in a statement that the "V-pier designs have found the right balance between iconic look and cost-effectiveness."

 

The flood control and economic development project will run from the near north side to Gateway Park. It is slated to be completed in 2021.

 

BILL HANNA, 817-390-7698

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