Underwater and Over Their Heads

Go look at the Trinity River today. The part where the city wants to build a toll road is under water. And if you can't get out of your office, because maybe it's pouring again, here's our slideshow presentation -- 18 photos all told, each one worth ... well, you know.

If the project had already been built the way they want to build it, the toll road today would be acting as a gigantic water cannon -- a high-pressure storm sewer shooting huge volumes of water downriver.

In order to offset the serious new flood dangers created by the design of the overall project (I’ll get to that) the river channel itself would have been cut far deeper than it is. So in addition to the water cannon along the toll road, we would have powerful, massive volumes of water slicing down this new deep ditch of a river beneath all of our downtown bridges.

The city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have both admitted in court and in other venues that several aspects of the Trinity River project will increase flood dangers downtown.

In March of 2002, then-Mayor Laura Miller allowed me and another journalist to sit in on a meeting she had with Corps officials. During that meeting Gene Rice, the Corps engineer in charge of the Trinity River project, admitted that the new levees to be built along the Cadillac Heights neighborhood will tend to back up flood waters into the portion of the river that runs through downtown.

More: City officials have not only had to admit that putting a toll road inside the levees will push flood waters higher, but they actually had to seek and get a special dispensation from a court settlement in which they had promised not to let anybody build projects that will make flooding worse. The city asked for official formal permission to build this project, which increases flood dangers -- and they got it, of course.

Now go look at that river again and think about Katrina. The river today is huge. The Corps has not yet had to make major emergency water releases from the lakes upstream, but if rains continue all next week, as some are predicting, well, that could happen.

This is a very dicey situation. If those levees do over-top and one life is lost, I am going to scream until I die that Gene Rice, Laura Miller, City Manager Mary Suhm, Trinity director Rebecca Dugger, former mayor Ron Kirk and and anybody else who has fingerprints on this thing should be dragged into some kind of dock to be held personally accountable.

Look at that river. Think about people playing with our safety so they can build vanity bridges and highways to improve their land values.

If Tom Leppert wants his prints on it, let him go ahead and grab. I hope he does it before the levees break.

You have only hours left to sign the petition calling for a referendum. You can sign in the lobby of the Turley Law Center at University Boulevard and North Central Expressway. --Jim Schutze

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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