The Fort Worth District's Dallas Floodway Project is located in Dallas, Texas. It is a complex project in cooperation or partnership with multiple units of local, state and federal government. It addresses a number of regional concerns, although flood protection for the citizens of Dallas remains the cornerstone of this multi-faceted effort.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has oversight responsibility for all activities within the federally authorized Dallas Floodway System. The Corps' Fort Worth District is a lead actor in some of the projects, such as the existing Dallas Floodway, which was strengthened and improved by USACE in the 1950s to reduce the risk of flooding. It was designed to handle a Standard Project Flood event. In other projects within the confines of the Dallas Floodway listed below, the Corps plays a smaller supporting role or perhaps only an oversight function.
The Dallas Floodway Project is located along the Trinity River upstream from the abandoned Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe (AT&SF) trestle to the confluence of the West and Elm Forks, then upstream along the West Fork for approximately 2.2 miles, and upstream about 4 miles along the Elm Fork.
Public safety is the No. 1 priority in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Levee Safety Program. The Dallas Floodway Project, now in the planning phase, is one of two Fort Worth District projects along the Trinity River designed to reduce flood risk for the citizens of Dallas. The other project, the Dallas Floodway Extension Project, is in the construction phase. Both the Corps of Engineers and the city of Dallas share the responsibility for public safety and both are committed to ensuring the integrity of the system. Each project has its own web section accessible from this Fort Worth District home page. The Corps of Engineers also provides public access to a National Levee Database providing more information on Dallas levees.
The Dallas Floodway Project, in addition to the adjacent Dallas Floodway Extension Project, focuses on three of five inter-related components within the Dallas Floodway System: flood protection, ecosystem restoration and recreation in partnership with the local sponsor, the city of Dallas.
The Corps of Engineers also has some role, but not a lead role, in two other major components: transportation and community/economic development.
Modifications to the existing Dallas Floodway Project were authorized in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007, Public Law 110-114, Section 5141, at a total project cost of $459 million, with an estimated Federal share of $298 million and an estimated non-Federal share of $161 million. In light of multiple ongoing activities within the Floodway, a comprehensive assessment of all these actions was deemed appropriate. It is included in the Final Feasibility Report.
Key Dallas Floodway Project Events
- Periodic Inspection. On April 13-17, 2014, the USACE Fort Worth District conducted a Periodic Inspection of the Dallas Floodway. This was the 10th Periodic Inspection of the East Levee and West Levee, and was the 2nd Periodic Inspection of the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant (CWWTP) Levee. (Congress in 1996 directed that the CWWTP levee system be added to the federally authorized Dallas Floodway System.) The result of the Periodic Inspection was released by the Fort Worth District to the city of Dallas on Sept. 25, 2014. It rated the Dallas Floodway "minimally acceptable." This was an upgrade of the system from the PI No. 9 report issued in 2009, which had rated the Dallas Floodway “unacceptable.” The “minimally acceptable” rating recognizes that while some system components may be non-compliant with national Corps levee policy, the integrity of the system is not compromised in performing as intended during a flood event to the full height of the levee. In the 55 years since the Corps completed a major construction upgrade of the Dallas Floodway, the biggest flood, in 1990, only reached about halfway up the levees. The city has made many improvements to the Dallas Levee System since the 2009 Periodic Inspection was released and is continuing to take corrective action on items noted in the 2014 Periodic Inspection.
- Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). A Final EIS has been produced and integrated with the Final Feasibility Report for this project. Links to these documents can be found elsewhere on this webpage. The two documents were developed by the Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Dallas. The Final EIS and Final Feasibility Report EIS evaluate the technical soundness and potential comprehensive environmental consequences resulting from the implementation of proposed levee remediation, flood risk management, ecosystem restoration, recreation enhancement, and other proposed projects in and around the Dallas Floodway. Under Section 5141, the Corps of Engineers undertook a comprehensive, systemwide analysis to evaluate alternatives, including the Balanced Vision Plan, the Interior Drainage Plan and other proposed non-federal modifications. The Federal Highway Administration is a cooperating agency in the study.
Major Dallas Floodway Project-Related Components
- Levee Remediation. Through Section 5141 the Corps of Engineers participated in investigations and analyses regarding remediation of the Dallas Floodway System. This included examination of changed conditions, and possible engineering or construction deficiencies that increase risk to public safety from a catastrophic flood event. Major changes have altered the watershed since the levee system was last modified in the late 1950s by the Fort Worth District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition to rapid development and land-use changes in the Upper Trinity River Basin two more flood-control reservoirs came on line as part of the system: Joe Pool Lake (1986) and Ray Roberts Lake (1987). In 1988 the Regional Environmental Impact Statement Trinity River and Tributaries Record of Decision determined that development could have a measurable and significant cumulative impact, which could compromise existing flood control protection and impact wetlands. As a result a voluntary enforcement mechanism -- the Corridor Development Certificate process -- was devised by cities and counties in the Trinity River Corridor to mitigate development impact and comply with the Record of Decision. The investigation examined potential levee raises and levee structural integrity concerns first raised in the Periodic Inspection No. 9 Report.
- Balanced Vision Plan. This city of Dallas plan for the Trinity River Corridor includes ecosystem restoration and recreation actions that are evaluated in the Final EIS. These include creating meanders within the Trinity River, restoring, protecting and expanding the riparian corridor, improving aquatic habitat, creating riffle-pool complexes, and constructing wetlands. Recreation measures that will be evaluated include the West, Natural and Urban lakes, terraced playing fields, multipurpose trails, whitewater facilities, pedestrian bridges, utilities, parking facilities, amphitheaters, promenade, concession pads, boat/canoe access points and passive recreation features, such as interpretive guidance, media and picnic areas.
- Interior Drainage Plan. This contains improvements proposed by the city of Dallas to aid drainage on the land side of the levee at existing and new pumping stations including Able, Baker, Charlie, Delta, Hampton, Trinity Portland and Pavaho. These are designed to restore sump capacity to provide protection against the 100-year flood event and provide gravity and pressure storm sewers. The Pavaho Pump Station behind the West Levee was completed in 2012; the Baker III Pump Station behind the East Levee was completed in 2015.
- Local Features. These consist of features not included in the Balanced Vision Plan, Interior Drainage Plan nor authorized by Section 5141. These local features may be implemented by non-federal entities subject to a determination that the proposed alterations or modifications would meet Corps engineering and safety standards, and would not have significant adverse effects on the functioning of the protective facilities for the Dallas Floodway System. These elements include:
- Section 408 levee modification at the 100-year level. In 2009 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) de-accredited the Dallas Floodway. As a result, the city of Dallas began preparing a plan of levee modifications so that it could certify the levees as meeting a 100-year standard required for insurance purposes. FEMA is revising the Dallas 100-year floodplain map under its National Flood Insurance Program. The Corps approved a permit application from the city under Section 408 of the Rivers and Harbors Act for these levee modifications. Construction was completed in 2013. If FEMA accepts the city's certification package, it could re-accredit the Dallas Floodway. FEMA's Flood Insurance Rate Map would then continue to show the levees provide protection from a flood likely to have a one-in-100 chance of happening in any given year. A 100-year flood is smaller yet more frequent than the Corps’ Standard Project Flood for the Floodway. Recent investigations estimated the Floodway can at present convey floodwaters without overtopping the levees of a major flood event that has a one-in-1,500 chance of happening in any given year.
- The Trinity Parkway is a proposed 9-mile toll road that would extend from the State Highway 183/IH-35E juncture to U.S. 175/Spur 310. Several route alternatives were reviewed through the Federal Highway Administration National Environmental Policy Act process (a separate and independent EIS). The preferred route proposed in that Final EIS document runs along the East Levee within the existing Dallas Floodway.
- Trinity River Standing Wave includes the construction of an in-stream standing wave for recreational use, and covers approximately nine acres. It includes a canoe launch, small trails, a parking area, and ingress/egress points (launch and take-out) supported by retaining walls.
- Santa Fe Trestle Trail is a hike and bike trail that provides access to Moore Park, located off East 8th Street south of downtown Dallas, and is about 10.4 acres. It crosses the Trinity River via the abandoned AT&SF trestle, continues to a parking constructed south of the planned Trinity Parkway, and ends as an access road at the north Trinity River levee near downtown Dallas. Construction of this city project was completed in 2012.
- Pavaho Storm Water Wetlands. The city of Dallas has proposed construction of 70 acres of storm water wetlands adjacent to the Pavaho Pumping Plant outfall. Construction was under way in 2014.
- Margaret McDermott (IH-30) Bridge and IH-35E Bridge (Horseshoe Project). Both cross the Trinity River. The I-30 structure will has a signature bridge component. The I-30 Texas Department of Transportation bridge will carry 11 main lanes and one reversible HOV lane. Construction on both bridges began in 2013. (The first signature bridge, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge over the Trinity River, opened in 2012.)
- Sylvan Avenue Bridge replaced the two-lane Sylvan Avenue approaches and low-water crossing over the Trinity River with a single six-lane bridge structure that spans the Dallas Floodway. The project, which was substantially completed in 2014, accommodates a bike route across the bridge. In 2015 it will provide access to the Floodway floor and relocate the boat ramp at Crow Lake Park.