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    Before: A levee system built in the early 1900s segmented downtown Fort Worth into discrete sections, isolating the city's neighborhoods from each other and making it difficult for the city to unify growth efforts.After: A bypass channel will link the formerly discrete sections of downtown Fort Worth, provide flood control, and create a beautiful lake for developers to build around.

After studying the area, engineers, waterfront designers, and urban planners came up with the idea of enhancing flood protection using a creatively designed flood diversion channel. A 2003 feasibility study affirmed the idea; the final design is due next year.

Cambridge, Mass.-based CDM is leading the preliminary design and engineering for the project, which in addition to a 1½-mile bypass channel includes three flood-isolation gates, a dam to maintain a relatively constant normal water surface elevation, and bridges and road improvements to three major thoroughfares. In addition to developing a project database that all parties can access via the Internet, the firm is helping with property acquisition, recreational components, environmental studies, coordinating surveyors and appraisers, and performing floodplain mitigation analysis.

Ecosystem improvements are being planned both upstream and downstream of the channel. Environmental remediation for potentially contaminated sites near the channel and transportation-related improvements are also included in the plan.

The urban-design portion of the project springboards off the channel project to link the Trinity Uptown area to Fort Worth's cultural district and historic stockyards district. Gideon Toal, a local architecture, planning, and urban design firm; Vancouver-based Bing Thom Architects; and CDM worked closely to ensure almost every part of the city will be linked via the river and its tributaries.

The riverfront development will result in a new mixed-use/mixed-income area, essentially doubling the size of downtown Fort Worth. The allure of an urban waterfront was one reason major retailers such as Radio Shack and Pier 1 decided to stay in the city and build new corporate campuses along the river.

Over the next 20 to 30 years, the aging commercial and industrial land adjacent to the river near downtown Fort Worth will be replaced by medium- to high-density residential development, shopping, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

Construction is expected to begin within two years.

Pay To Play

In late 2004, $110 million of federal funding was authorized by Congress for flood control and other purposes under Public Law 108-447, Section 116, making Fort Worth's one of only seven projects that received this form of funding.

In 2005, an additional $12.8 million of transportation-related infrastructure funding was approved under the Safe, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).

In the end, the federal government will fund approximately half the infrastructure improvement costs. Local project sponsors will fund about 25% and a tax increment financing district the remaining 25%.

— Richard Sawey is a vice president and client service manager at CDM (www.cdm.com), Cambridge, Mass.