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What Happens To The Parks When The Trinity River Floods?

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By Shawn Williams

I received a good question based on the article I wrote in the Dallas Morning News today.  While I give props to the Hunt Hill Bridge that we will celebrate this weekend, I focus a lot on the promised water attractions.

Where else can you find a majestic structure such as this traversing a pitiful stream like the one that runs near downtown Dallas? Calatrava himself said the bridge is not a monument to itself, but “it will permit everybody to observe the value of the riverbed.”

I received an email on the subject that went something like this:

I was born in Dallas, spending most of my 73 years living in the Dallas area, and I can’t tell you how many times I have seen theTrinity flood from levee to levee. Way back, when planning was going on for establishing structures and activities within the levees, I saw no discussion regarding how the frequent flooding would impact whatever was built there.

Being a native Dallasite, I was curious about this and inquiries were made to city hall, the Corps of Engineers and others. So far, zero information has been provided. So, what am I missing here. Do you know ?

Very fair and legitimate questions.  I went to the Trinity River River Corridor Balanced Vision Plan to see what they had to say about this.  The Parks and Recreation section gave a pretty good overview of they thought process that will go into the design of the floodway amenities.

A Park in a Floodway

Because the new river park is in an active floodway, it must be designed to function during minor floods and be repaired quickly after a flood event. This means management of floodwaters, debris and sediment.,  The park must be designed to work with the hydrodynamics of the river to allow for conveyance of the river from low flows to the extreme high flows during flood events.

The configuration and reinforcement of major park elements, elevations of park program, slopes of surfaces for drainage, plant and paving material selections must all be designed to allow for peak flows and resist erosion during  those events.

From Trinity River Balanced Vision Plan

Permanent facilities within the floodway must be designed to withstand inundation without damage to electrical and mechanical systems.

Concessions can be trailer based and moved seasonally or during extreme flood conditions. Constructed wetlands and lakes will be elevated and protected by constructed earthen berms to minimize flood borne debris and sedimentation.

The stormwater wetlands at the pumped outfalls will have a primary bypasschannel for major storm event conveyance that can be accessed by rubber-tired maintenance equipment .  The off-channel lakes will  be configured to allow for sediment to pass through and return to the main channel during extreme flood events to reduce lake siltation. Recreation fields will be raised to an elevation to minimize inundation of floodwaters and protect turf.

Looking down on the billion dollar ditch as it exists today, it’s tough to even begin to think of off-channel lakes or parks being built in the floodway. But I still assert that the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge will look out of place until it actually traverses a significant body of water.  At least a more significant than what we have now.

  • Phelps

    There won’t be any parks. There will be a big tollway, and that’s it. If you’ve ever believed those promises you’re Booboo the Fool.

  • Ytinirt

    Agreed – the parks idea will never happen. We have a whitewater rapids engineering disaster sitting there at the Corinth bridge that cannot be used and Phelps is correct that you will have a tollway and that is it.

Average Joe
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