Feature: Wednesday, October 10, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Holy Trinity!

A downtownFort Worth lake may not be a mirage for long.

By Gayle Reaves

It’s a beautiful early fall afternoon on the Trinity River, just below the bluff where Fort Worth was founded. In the heart of a city of half a million people, the scene is almost pastoral, quiet enough for the occasional jogger to hear the bells of a downtown church. Like a waterfowl version of the Sharks and the Jets, flocks of geese compete over a stretch of hike-and-bike trail. The only other signs of animal life are one big turtle (live) and a school of bright fish painted on a wall by the power plant on the north bank. When the Tarantula train crosses on a trestle, just north of where the West Fork empties into the Clear, it looks like a model choo-choo in a hobbyist’s setup, where someone has left out the figures of people. If there were a panther in the vicinity, she might indeed sleep unmolested in the tall trees beneath the Main Street bridge, like a few street people are doing in Heritage Park above.

A plaque in the park recounts that, according to tradition, Robert E. Lee, standing on that bluff and looking out over a similar scene said, “I hear the incoming march of thousands of feet.”

He must have had a premonition about the 2002 Trinity River Master Plan.

In less than two weeks, the city council is due to receive a proposal that, if approved and implemented, could turn this stretch of the Trinity into a smaller version of White Rock Lake or Austin’s Town Lake.

“There’s never been anything like this here,” said Jim Oliver, general manager of the Tarrant Regional Water District. Ron Ruffennach, spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers in Fort Worth, called the plan possibly the most significant change along this stretch of the Trinity since the massive earthen levees that guard against floods were built more than half a century ago.

It’s not quite as momentous as making water run uphill, but the idea — or one of the ideas — being proposed is to change the course of a short stretch of the river and, in effect, dig a new channel for the West Fork through the Near North Side, moving the confluence of the two branches more than a mile to the northeast. A new dam would raise water levels and create a “City Lake” just west of the Main Street bridge, submerging part of the old Tandy


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