Fort Worth Gets Good News: Federal Funding For Big Projects | KERA News

Fort Worth Gets Good News: Federal Funding For Big Projects

Feb 2, 2017

Fort Worth has gotten some good news recently – in the form of federal commitments to help fund a couple of big infrastructure projects.

One project that got federal funding is the Trinity River Vision Plan.

This is a massive project just north of downtown Fort Worth that will re-route a section of the Trinity River – and basically create an island in the river. It was primarily conceived as an anti-flooding measure, which is why it’s being overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Congress approved more than half a billion dollars in federal funds to go to that project. It was part of a huge water infrastructure bill.

The second phase of development is going to be largely privately funded -- and that’s an economic development plan that would create a mixed-use housing, retail and entertainment district. They’re calling it Panther Island. Think of it as Fort Worth’s answer to the San Antonio Riverwalk.

While the funding for this massive project is looking more sure, the timeline is less clear. The current phase of the project is building three bridges over the area that will become a new bypass channel for the Trinity. And construction of those bridges is about a year behind, which has led to a new round of criticism of the Trinity River Vision project and its nearly billion-dollar price tag.

TEX Rail also got federal funding.

TEX Rail is a planned commuter train that will go from downtown Fort Worth to DFW International Airport. And it’ll have stops in North Richland Hills and Grapevine.

It’s a project of the Fort Worth Transit Authority, and the T, as they’re called, got confirmation it is getting the final half-billion dollars in federal funds to pay for the project.

Construction actually started last fall, so it was clear that the T expected that money to come in.

Trains: Dallas vs. Fort Worth

Fort Worth has long lagged behind the other major Texas cities for public transit funds.

Dallas’ DART system already has an orange light-rail line to the airport.

The Fort Worth Transit Authority’s master plan would dramatically expand transit in the western half of North Texas.

There is a public transit option from Fort Worth to DFW now -- but it’s a little convoluted. Basically, you take the Trinity River Express train, which gets you to a bus nearby. That bus takes you to another bus, which will get you to your terminal.

Christopher Reels works at DFW – and he makes that trek every day.

“Depends on the timing of what time the transit comes -- it probably takes me an hour from bus to train to bus to bus,” he says. “But if the timing is not right, we’re looking at two hours to two hours and a half. And some days they’re on different schedules.”

TEX Rail would, obviously, make it easier to get to the airport. But the T also says that it’ll be a boon for tourists coming into Fort Worth. Officials point to big development projects in the works around the stations in North Richland Hills and Grapevine as the ripple effect of investing in public transit.