Posted on June 8, 2022
North Texas officials on Tuesday formally broke ground on a $223 million project to improve the Trinity River floodway in Dallas.
The Army Corp of Engineers is overseeing work to raise certain sections of the levees along the river by 2 to 6 feet and reduce the slope on some portions along the 23-mile network of barriers that hold back floodwaters. Existing pump stations will be renovated, and a pump station will be built near the western portion of the existing levee system on the south side of the river.
The new pumping station will improve drainage in the Ledbetter and Eagle Ford neighborhoods.
“Both the Corps of Engineers and the city of Dallas share a responsibility of public safety, and we are both committed to ensuring the integrity of this floodway,” said Col. Jonathan Stover, commander of the Army Corp of Engineers Fort Worth District, which covers Dallas.
Construction on the project actually began last month. The lion’s share of the funding to improve the existing floodway comes from the federal government as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. About 35% of that will be covered by the city of Dallas.
At the groundbreaking ceremony in West Dallas, U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson thanked Stover and the Corp for working with local government leaders to help the project come to fruition.
“Many of you will never know just how important this occasion is, but when you think of waking up and finding water up to your window line and all of your beds and couches soaked with water, versus not, then you can kind of imagine what some of this means to all of us,” Johnson said.
Others in attendance included Dallas City Council members Carolyn King Arnold, Paula Blackmon, Omar Narvaez and Gay Donnell Willis.
Raising the levee will allow for increased water flow through the floodway during major weather events. As it is now, the floodway can handle about 226,000 cubic feet per second of water flow, according to the Corps. After work to improve the levees is completed, the floodway will be able to convey 277,000 cubic feet per second of water flow — about a 22.6% increase.
Flattening the slope of existing levees will make it easier for city crews to maintain them.
No land acquisition will be required to make the improvements.
The project is expected to be completed in 2024.
Further down the road is a plan to install levees in the southern portions of the city. The extension will include a new Lamar Levee, which will be approximately 3 miles long and run north of the Trinity River, and the Cadillac Heights Levee, which will be south of the river and about 2.25 miles, said Carlos Denson, an Army Corp of Engineers program manager.
The federal government has provided $135 million for that project.
That work could affect some residential and commercial properties, said Sarvi Ashraf, the Corp’s technical lead for the Trinity River projects.
“We are working with our partners at the city of Dallas to minimize the impact as much as possible,” Ashraf said.
Because the extension project is still in the early stages of design, Ashraf said she does not know whether developed land will need to be acquired for the project. The city will need to work with residents and business owners to acquire land and property that is needed for the extension.
Sarah Standifer, the assistant director over stormwater operations with the city of Dallas, said drainage improvements are projected to protect parts of the city that are along the Trinity River from major flooding for the next five to six decades.
“As these projects come online, what you will then see is the city then move into the neighborhoods to begin upsizing pipes underground to convey the water,” Standifer said.
Araceli Correa, who has lived in West Dallas for about 40 years, said her house was severely impacted by flooding in 2015.
Correa, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony with her sister-in-law and nephews, said she was happy to see the start of the improvement project.
“This is good for the city and the community,” Correa said in Spanish through an interpreter.