Fort Worth

Panther Island Detours and Closures to Ease Next Year, Organizer Says

TXDot spokesman says bridges to be finished in 2020

Business owners near downtown Fort Worth who complain that road closures and detours from the Panther Island project have inconvenienced customers and cut into their profits could see relief next year, organizers say.

Construction on three bridges is progressing and White Settlement Road, which has been closed for three years, is set to re-open next year, said J.D. Granger, who as head of the Trinity River Vision Authority is managing the $1.1 billion Panther Island project.

But the Texas Department of Transportation, which is constructing the bridges, hasn’t changed its timetable.

The bridges are on track to be completed in 2020, not next year, said spokesman Val Lopez.

Granger said work on the bridges is “flying” and suggested business owners be patient.

"When those bridges open they're going to be sitting in a really good place." Granger said.

Asked what he would say to the owners who have lost profits, he said, “I’m sorry.”

Jason George, the owner of Angelo’s Barbecue, said most of his customers are from downtown but with White Settlement Road closed, there’s no direct route.

"They can't get here,” he said. “They don't want to fight the traffic to get here. Other people just don't know how to get here."

George said he has lost so much business he has had to cut back his staff.

"It's a mess,” he said. “It's just a big mess right now."

The Panther Island project has been plagued with questions after the federal government, which was supposed to pay for half, has declined to fund it. State and local taxpayers have already spent millions.

Granger said he still believes the federal funding will be approved in coming years.

His mother, Rep. Kay Granger, is now ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee.

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