The Daily Hustle: 4/11/11
Come hell or high Waller, tunnel construction starts
By Wells Dunbar,
11:42AM, Mon. Apr. 11, 2011
A quiet milestone of sorts Friday, as the city broke ground on the Waller Creek tunnel project, initiating redevelopment along the Downtown creek, and in doing so, achieving a concept that's eluded the city for decades.
The cost of equalizing the flow along Waller via a tunnel, in order to pull surrounding land out of the floodplain, had been the plan's Achilles' heel for decades, until the city entered into a funding partnership with the county to finance it. Now, with City Council recently approving the last, revised leg in that financing – including a controversial funding mechanism directly on citizens water bills, decried by onlookers who say the tunnel is a sweetheart deal for nearby landowners – ground broke on the project Friday.
According to the city, “Tunnel construction will begin when work crews excavate a 30-foot wide, 70-feet deep entrance shaft between Fourth and Fifth Streets, just west of IH-35. They will then use specialized equipment to excavate through limestone in two directions until the tunnel reaches Waterloo Park and Lady Bird Lake where it will connect to an inlet structure and an outlet lagoon. The final stage will be to line the tunnel with concrete. The main segment of the tunnel, along with the inlet structure and the outlet lagoon, are expected to be complete and operational by the end of 2014.”
However, the effect on the Red River ecosystem – including many of it's hand-to-mouth rock venues, who likely can't afford the increase in rents added development brings – is still far from known.