Flood control project set in motion

farmers branch work

Farmers Branch Creek

By A.C. Hall

Seven years after being set into motion, construction has finally begun on the Farmer’s Branch flood control project.  In 2005, White Settlement citizens passed a bond to fund the large project that sought to widen, deepen and straighten the creek to alleviate flooding.  After this, the project would undergo setbacks and delays that made many think it was never going to happen.  

“There was a lot of time and energy spent getting to this point,” Project Manager Jack Bell said in a recent interview.

Bell, who is one of the main City employees working on the flood control project, said he was happy to see construction get started.  He also expressed disappointment that only a portion of the project will be completed.

“My one regret is that the whole project is not being done,” Bell said.  “It would have been great for the city along with all the residents that live on the creek.”

At one point the project was going to be much larger than it currently is, but in 2011 White Settlement citizens put a stop to further funding for the project.  A petition put a proposed bond to citizen vote, and the citizens voted against it.

This action left the City without the needed funds to do the full project, which is when work began with the Army Corps of Engineers for a possible partial version of the project.  Along with Corps funding and the money still left from the 2005 bond, the partial project was born.

Extending east from the Meadow Park bridge next to City Hall to the creek’s intersection with White Settlement Road near Cherry Lane, this partial project is expected to take 187 days with an anticipated completion date of July 2013.

“I think it’s great that we still had enough funding in place to do some of the project to at least show something for all the time and energy that was spent,” Bell said.  “What is being done will help the flooding issues somewhat.”

A major component of this partial version of the project is a new bridge on Meadow Park.  Work on this bridge is set to take place in the spring of 2013. The new free span bridge will replace the current bridge beside City Hall.  According to Bell, the free span style of bridge allows for better water flow and will assist water in making its way out of the city quicker.  The popular reflecting pond outside of City Hall will remain unchanged.

Citizens who supported the project and are holding out hope that the rest of it will be done after this phase may not like what Bell had to say on the subject.

“I don’t have a good feeling about any new startup after this phase,” Bell said.  “The Corps has been very up front with us saying that future funding was not going to be available for quite a while.”

The Farmer’s Branch Flood Control project became a divisive issue within the city, so there are some who will mourn Bell’s words while others will rejoice in the knowledge that this looks like the only phase that will be completed for the foreseeable future.

Bell spoke about increased help citizens could have received from the full project such as lower insurance rates, but acknowledged that there were two sides to the issue.

“I know there were a lot of pros and cons about the project but at the end of the day the people had spoken and that’s where we are today,” Bell said.