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For a Stalled-Out Project, There Sure Is a Lot Going On With the Trinity River Corridor

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has determined that at least one component of the Trinity River Corridor Project is close to being good to go -- and, yup, that's the Standing Wave whitewater-maker about which we wrote yesterday. As we learned today at the city council's Trinity River Corridor Project committee briefing, it'll basically  involve the construction of two speed bumps along the river bed that will create, well, waves. But we wanted to know who was paying for the $3-million project, since there's no money budgeted for it beyond a little less than a million. (The $16 million we mentioned yesterday actually refers to the related Whitewater Park at Continental, which, for now, ain't on the schedule.) Turns out, no one will say where the other $2 million's coming from.

"We've got private donations, and we've got some bonds for it," is the most Trinity River Corridor Project director Rebecca Rasor (formerly Rebecca Dugger) will say. "They have opened a bid, and I don't know his name ... I can't tell you his name." She would only say that construction could begin as soon as this November -- if the city gets approval from the Corps, gets the contract awarded, and the weather doesn't suck.

"If it's wet down there, nobody works," Rasor says.

We thought, oh, maybe this was the "exciting gift announcement" the Trinity Trust has planned for 3 p.m. on Thursday at a presentation featuring Santiago Calatrava, Mayor Tom Leppert, City Manager Mary Suhm and other bold-faced names. Not so much, says Juliette Coulter, who handles PR for the Trinity Trust. "We're awaiting news on that one," Coulter says, referring to Standing Wave. "Stay tuned." Also not on the whoop-de-to-do list for Thursday: the Dallas Urban Design Studio.

But jump for other possible peeks at the Trinity's future.

Coulter says the $2 million that will fund the DUDS through 2014 comes from "a private donor,"  and that there will be a separate official announcement next week, most likely.

"We had hoped that would fly underneath the radar, but when [Trinity Trust president] Gail Thomas told me it was going to be on the Trinity River Corridor Committee briefing agenda, I told her, 'Good luck,'" Coulter says. "Then, of course, I saw it on your blog. But we will have that announcement next week."

So, guess we'll have to wait till Thursday.

But today, the committee got another look at what lies ahead in the not-too-distant future for the Trinity -- a new Sylvan Avenue Bridge, just maybe. Because the old one always manages to find itself underwater.

"Corps has indicated that it may be able to release this project for early construction ... in late 2010/early 2011," read one of the PowerPoint slides shown at this morning's meeting. Which prompted this question from Angela Hunt: "I'm wondering about Sylvan Bridge, because that's one of the major ways that I access -- and people I talk with access -- and get down into the floodway. How are we going to maintain ... some means of getting down into the Trinity in that location as we build the new bridge?"

To which Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan responded, "We won't. We'll be shutting down ... those park uses, and we coordinated that with the Park Department. So all of those soccer games and everything that happens there at Crow Lake that's not going to be happening. The only way you'll be able to get there is to walk up and over the levees."

As for those levee-fixin' delays necessitated by "the complexities of the repairs," according to Jordan's memo to the council last week, city officials insist those delays were OK'd by the Corps way back on June 30. "The newspaper article implied we were seeking an extension," said Elizabeth Fernandez, who now manages the floodway system. To which Jordan added, "We still have to prove that the levees are adequate to handle the 100-year flood. That's the proof FEMA needs."

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