Originally Posted by the Genral
Best explanation to date, thx. I'm hoping for significant waterfall features to drown out some of the traffic noise. I would imagine cleanup and some engineering work can begin on the creek after the digging begins. Another question I have is can all or most of the water be diverted to the tunnel so that the creek can be dry for maintenance?
The digging is only going to be visible at certain areas downtown. The rest will be underground with the tunnel boring machines. Because of this, if the will is there I am sure much of the work could start as soon as the project in full swing (and investors are confident the project will proceed to completion). I use the term "will" here purposefully because that really is the next step in this process. Under what I understand of this entire project (and anyone else that has more info about this project correct me if I am wrong), the tunneling project, which includes utility relocation, the tunnel, the inlet, outlet, creek side inlets, site restoration, and maybe the boat house, is the only part of this entire plan that is funded (and even that is based on TIF projections). There is no money or funding scheme set aside for any of the nice drawings of parks and paths we are seeing on the Master Plan. The plan is just that, a plan that needs political (and that might be contentious in some parts of the plan) and economic will. Hopefully the tunnel project will generate that. Once it gets started, businesses might be more willing to invest in the area. Until then, there are no real concrete plans or timelines saying when we will get all these visible aspects of the project. Just a vision and some hopes and dreams.
One final note: because of what I just said, I honestly don't think the TIF district would of ever fully paid for this project. Already we are seeing a new tax on water bills to pay for it. Let me make this clear...I AM PERFECTLY OK WITH THAT. The Waller Creek tunnel project will more than pay for itself in the long run in both economic and social benefits. But I think that the fact that TIF would pay for all of this project was just used as a political maneuver. In the long run, 10-20 years, maybe there will be the development necessary to pay for all the other improvements necessary for this project; things like the nice walkways and pretty terraces area again separate and unfunded. However, many of the supposed business that are going to move in and take advantages of those facilities (and pay for the TIF) are going to want to wait for the visual improvements to at least have started before they commit. The city might push them to put in the improvements themselves but that would increase costs and might dissuade some investors. It is a little of a chicken and egg situation. The businesses want the trail improvements, but the city needs them to be there to pay for the trail improvements. Like any large infrastructure project that lays the first groundwork for development, it is pretty optimistic to think TIF will pay for all of it. And I haven't even touched the transportation upgrades that will probably be necessary to accommodate all this extra density on Waller Creek and Rainey St. But that is just my opinion and I may be wrong. Maybe this stuff will appear quickly and we will have a brand new from scratch district in the next few years. We shall all just have to wait and see.