For years, Fort Worth residents, new and old, have heard tales of the Panther Island Project and the potential of having a San Antonio-type riverwalk in our own backyard. Unfortunately, it seemed the Trinity River Vision (TRV), a master plan for 88 miles of Trinity River shoreline in Fort Worth, took a backseat to other Tarrant County developments popping up in all directions. But, after years of being stalled by unforeseen circumstances, the project is finally taking off.
“I came up with the concept of TRV while I was mayor,” U.S. Representative Kay Granger says. Surveying the landscape, she recognized Fort Worth had a hidden asset.
“Fort Worth has a river that connects the historic Stockyards, the revitalized downtown and the nationally renowned museum district,” she says. “Unfortunately, because of how the flood control had been constructed in the past, the levees hid the river and broke up access to the three key areas of Fort Worth.”
You see, everything changed after the great flood of 1949, which completely swamped the West Seventh corridor and forced residents to maneuver the streets in fishing boats.
Miles of levees were constructed in the ’60s to guard against the next catastrophic storm. The levees solved one problem: holding the Trinity safely within higher banks. But it also isolated residents from one of the city’s best features − the river itself.
Representative Granger was one of ten mayors invited to attend the Mayors’ Institute on City Design. “The premise of this institute was that the future of cities was contingent on planning and design,” she says.
“A very successful example of this type of planning is the San Antonio River Walk. The River Walk was born out of flood control issues,” Kay says. “While addressing these flood control issues, the city was able to transform the whole area.”
The creation of a bypass channel will allow for flood-level water to be diverted and will help restore a more natural view of the Trinity River, resulting in a man-made island – Panther Island.