A Backward Way of Moving Forward on the Trinity

Better late...: After the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its report on the city's levees in April, we were baffled to learn that construction on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge would continue, especially since drilling a concrete pier for the bridge into the floodway resulted in the troubling discovery of sand and the botched installation of the pier.

So this week, we asked Kevin Craig, the corps' Trinity River project director, that very question: How the heck is construction moving forward?

"I guess it's the definition of moving forward," Craig said. "Moving forward means that they are moving forward with the analysis, investigations and the design for how to remediate things to ensure that bridge doesn't cause adverse impacts to the levee."

What, they're doing that now? Buzz is far, far from being smart enough to be an engineer, but we wondered: Is there some highly complicated corps' engineering manual out there titled "Proper Techniques of Closing Barn Doors Upon the Exit of Equines."

But surely those corps guys know what they're doing. So we asked them how the ol' remediatin' was going.

"We feel like there are ways to mitigate it," he said. "The investigations and analysis will tell us how to do that."

Let that sink in. The city wants a suspension bridge and toll road inside its flood-control system so badly that it's asking the corps to investigate and analyze ways to lessen the impact of inserting massive concrete piers into the floodway. Way back in Sunday school, li'l Buzz used to sing a hymn about some guy who built his house upon the sand. We don't remember how that turned out, but we remember the chorus: "And the rain came a-tumblin' down."

Anyhoo, we were also dying to know why the corps didn't know about the sand since they rebuilt the levees in the early 1950s.

"That's part of what we're doing is going back and looking at all the existing data that was done, was prepared or used in those designs," he said. "I don't know the full answer to that question until we go back and look and see all what was done."

Seriously? So was the corps oblivious to the sand or did they just underestimate the problem?

"As far as I know...we didn't know the nature or the extent of that sand, and we still don't," he said.

But someday they will, we're just sure of it. Hopefully they'll be able to tell us before the water reaches up to our ears.