The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Campus opening delayed by issues for TCC district

By Susan Tallant/editor-in-chief

Opening the downtown campus by spring of 2010 may no longer be a reality, the board of trustees learned at a meeting last week.

The latest delay, one of many roadblocks since the project began, may delay construction and increase cost to rise above the $297.5 million price tag.

“ When we began planning the downtown campus, there was no reason for anyone to assume we would encounter any significant regulatory approval issues from any local, regional, state or federal agency that would cause us concern,” David Wells, vice chancellor for operations and planning services, said in a Sept. 17 memo.

Wells said since Hurricane Katrina, the Corps has rededicated itself to restoring its record of excellence and has issued new, more stringent guidance.

“ Because construction of the new campus requires modification to a federally authorized and constructed flood control project, the Corps must review and approve all activities that will potentially affect the project and those levees and appurtenant works,” he said.

Wells said during the process of coordination with the Corps, it became clear that several difficult and significant technical issues must be identified and resolved before the Corps would permit construction to go forward on the work that touches the federal flood control project.
“ Identification and resolution of these issues is taking longer than had been anticipated at almost every step of the way,” he said.

Louise Appleman, vice president of the TCC board, said construction and architect crews seem optimistic in spite of the setbacks.

“ Every time we finish one requirement, they lay out another,” she said. “It would be such a nightmare if we couldn’t fulfill our plans.”

Gene Rice, project manager with the Corps of Engineers, said the guidelines were in place years ago and are not a result of Hurricane Katrina.

“ Modifying a federal project is a just a long process and is not something that can be done overnight or in a few days,” he said.

Rice said there are two aspects to the project—the engineering and technical side and the federal clearance side requiring a detailed statement for the National Environmental Policy Act.

“ The environmental assessment takes a little longer than the technical,” he said.

NEPA involvement, initiated this summer, could not have been introduced any earlier because project construction was not far enough into the process, Rice said.

According to NEPA’s Web site, federal agencies are required to combine environmental values into the decision-making process by considering the environmental impacts of proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to the actions. To meet this requirement, federal agencies prepare a detailed statement known as an Environmental Impact Statement.

“ If there is any good news to come out of this, it is that we are much closer to resolution on the engineering, geo-technical and hydrology solutions than we were earlier this year and much further along in the process of getting to final submittal for the Corps application,” Wells said.

The environmental study requires a 60-day public comment period, beginning with a hearing Tuesday, Oct. 9, 6-9 p.m. at the Rose Marine Theater, 1440 N. Main St.

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