Dallas Mayor Vs. Mother Nature

City appoints new liaison to speed Trinity River project.

Last week Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert visited Washington to visit Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Army Corps officials in hopes of speeding the Trinity River Corridor Project, which seems like a logical thing to do if your project has made little progress over the last decade while coming up hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. A less logical thing to do is expedite your project at the expense of safety.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, hung up on little things like geotechnical evaluations to determine how building a highway inside a floodway could affect levees that, if broken, could result in massive flooding, prompted Leppert to evaluate any changes that could help him meet his 2014 completion goal.

On Wednesday, he introduced one outcome of his trip -- Kevin Craig, a newly appointed liaison from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between Dallas, the North Texas Tollway Authority and top corps officials in Washington.

Craig, who previously spent about 50 percent of his time on the project, will now focus on it full time and will receive a raise. Hindsight is 20/20, but establishing a position for a single point of contact seems like one of the first things a city might do when undertaking a billion-dollar feat of engineering, and might have saved a lot of time and trouble.

Craig spent his first day on the job Tuesday with the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee explaining the organization of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, followed by a council discussion.  

According to the Observer, when questioned by council member Mitchell Rasansky regarding the biggest hold up on the project, Craig responded, "Making sure that all of the components can be put into the floodway without decreasing the capacity of that floodway to carry floods.” Then he added, “Being an engineer, I think there are ways to overcome just about every obstacle.”

Ransansky’s golden and telling response: “You are absolutely correct. All it takes is money and time.”

Holly is a Dallas journalist who has written and worked for various area publications including Examiner and D Magazine.

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