Monday, September 16, 2013

Bridges to Nowhere

The latest update in the Fort Worth Star Telegram on the Trinity River Vision Central City Panther Island Boondoggle had a few telling sentences.  We're telling you again, pay attention.  YOU can't afford not to.  YOU are the one paying.

In case you missed it the first read through, we bolded it for you below.

Building the bridges without securing the millions needed to complete the project is putting taxpayers at risk, they say.

Fort Worth is counting on Congress to eventually provide about half the $910 million needed to finish the sweeping project.

But it’s not clear when — some say if — all the federal funds will come.

“In this constrained funding environment, we must focus on projects that have the greatest impacts on life safety. The result is, we have insufficient federal funding to continue the project at this time,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Kula, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Southwestern Division, which includes Texas.

Kula said his agency has a $60 billion backlog of projects nationwide.

Congress has banned earmarks for the past three years and will likely do so for several more. That makes it hard for supporters of Trinity Uptown/Panther Island to make their case for federal funding when judged against so many other flood control projects needed nationwide, said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington group that opposes earmarks.

“I don’t see the earmark ban being lifted in this Congress or anytime past that because it’s politically unpopular,” Ellis said. “It’s going to be challenging to be the first member of Congress to say, ‘Yeah, I think we should go back to that parochial spending.’”

Many local, state and federal agencies are chipping in for the Trinity Uptown/Panther Island project, which is expected to cost about $910 million. Below are funds budgeted for the project:
Fort Worth: $26.6 million
Tarrant County: $11 million
Tarrant Regional Water District: $64.4 million
Tax increment financing district: $320 million *
Texas Department of Transportation/North Central Texas Council of Governments: $66.3 million
Army Corps of Engineers: $411.6 million
Federal economic development/housing: $10 million
 Total: $909.9 million
* Includes a loan of up to $226 million from the Tarrant Regional Water District’s natural gas funds
Source: Trinity River Vision Authority

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