Dallas Trinity River levees rated unacceptable

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by By GARY REAVES / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 11:08 AM

'UNACCEPTABLE' LEVEES

Brad Watson reports

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DALLAS - After the Army Corp of Engineers deemed the levees in Dallas "unacceptable," delays may be down the road for the Trinity River toll road.

It may also mean higher flooding insurance for nearby owners

And as questions arose Tuesday over the impact of the call made on the levees, the city didn't seem to have any answers yet.

The levees over the Trinity River are 80 years old and have yet to be problematic. However, that was what they said about the New Orleans' levees prior to Hurricane Katrina.

Since Katrina, the Corp of Engineers - which is responsible for flood prevention - changed the rules and that could mean big changes for plans to build the toll road.

The Santiago Calatrava designed bridges over the Trinity River are among the reason the levees have been deemed unsafe. Under its old rules, the Corp of Engineers allowed bridge supports to be drilled right into the levees.

Aldo Jaramillo, who is raising his daughter just a block from the levees, said the news has him concerned.

"I feel it might be a little too low and it might come down," he said.

Adding to the problem is the city's Trinity River Corridor Project, which would drill into the levees once again to build the toll road. One city council member, Angela Hunt, said she sees it as an insurmountable problem.

"That we would want to pour millions of tons of concrete into that system and further exacerbate the lack of safety, it's irresponsible," she said.

But Mayor Tom Leppert said he believes the levees can be fixed at the same time the toll road is built

"We are also committed to making the corrections that need to be made to get our levees to an acceptable level," he said. "And also, to stress again, the Trinity River project is moving forward."

As for delays, it's too soon to tell.

"Right now, I don't think we can make any specific determination on what might delay building the road,"

Dallas is not the first city to have its levees declared unacceptable.

When the same thing happened in St. Louis, FEMA redrew flood maps. Now, people there have to choose between spending $150 million to improve the levees or pay thousands more for flood insurance.

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