City Hall

The Cost of Fixing the Trinity River Levees Keeps Getting Cheaper and Cheaper

Not two years ago Dallas city officials believed, based upon information provided by HNTB, that to bring the unaccredited Trinity River levees back to that so-called 100-year flood level of protection, it would cost anywhere from $100 million to $150 million. The solution: cut-off walls sunk into the levee, around three miles' worth, give or take. Which was a far cry from the about-a-billion-dollar figure once thrown around.

But then, in October, the city council was told the price tag was much, much, much less: $20 million to $30 million. That number was based upon the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' willingness to let the city make the needed repairs while also "integrat[ing] the Corps' new Risk Assessment process into the ongoing concurrent study of the Dallas Floodway system for flood events up to the 800-year level and beyond."

And while the city and Corps had different definitions for what that meant -- essentially: fixing the levees, making sure the sump pumps work and having and evacuation plan sitting nearby -- one thing was certain. As the Corps explained in its October 3 release, "The City and the Corps have collaborated to identify safe and cost-effective construction methods to complete the 100-year fixes at an anticipated cost savings of approximately $30 million to $50 million."

Or more: A glance at the city's inscrutable bids website shows that this week the city posted a heads-up for prospective construction companies wanting to tackle the project. Bids are due February 23 -- a mere six days after they're given a pre-bid tour of the site. And the cost has taken yet another dip: "Estimated construction cost is $18 million." I've asked City Hall how it arrived at the latest figure. Till I hear back the whole bid's after the jump. And, yes, the opening and closing dates are correct, at least according to the doc posted at present.

Update at 3:45 p.m.: Frank Librio, city spokesman, just dispatched this explanation regarding the bid estimate:

The bid packet you are looking at was for the majority of the work, but there is a second bid packet for a smaller amount. In addition, the City will have to pay HNTB for services related to overseeing the construction work and finishing the certification submittal to FEMA. The total of all of these is close to $20m


Sealed bids will be received at the Office of Purchasing Agent of the City of Dallas, 1500 Marilla St., Room 3FN, Dallas, TX 75201, until 1:00 p.m. on Thursdays. The Bids will be publicly open at 2:00 p.m. on Thursdays in the Express Business Center, Rm L2ES at City Hall. Bid Openings can also be viewed on the City of Dallas Webcasting Website (, click on City Meetings). Bid titles, department and dates of public opening are listed below. Bid packets and plans and specifications may be obtained from the department. For alternative plans and specifications pick up site, please contact department.

"100-YEAR LEVEE REMEDIATION - CUTOFF WALL IMPROVEMENTS (PB98P558)" This project involves the installation of about 3 miles of cutoff walls within the floodway, improvements to the Hampton Pump Station outfall, and construction of maintenance roads. Estimated construction cost is $18 million. Pre-bid meeting for this flood control project will be held at 10:00 A.M. on Friday, February 17, 2012, at City Hall, 1500 Marilla, Auditorium Room (L1FN) by the Green elevators. It is recommended that all prospective bidders attend this meeting as a brief project presentation will be given and out of town design engineers will be present at this meeting. A site visit to the project area will be given immediately after this pre-bid meeting. Plan set are available for purchase at Oak Cliff Municipal Center, Public Works, 320 East Jefferson Boulevard, Room 307, Dallas, Texas 75203. Please contact Thomas Greene at (214) 948-4492 or fax (214) 948-4680 for information concerning the current plan holders list and availability of the plans. The nonrefundable cost for plans and specifications is $30.00 per hard copy set, $30 for the project DVD which includes the plans and specifications, or $45 for both. Sets must be purchased by check or money order only and made payable to the City of Dallas. For information concerning this project and site visit, please contact the project manager, Than Nguyen at (214) 948-4685 or [email protected] Plan sets will be available for purchase by Monday, January 30, 2012.
Bid Opening Date: February 23, 2012
Bid Due Date: February 23, 2012

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky