FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Uncertainties about the future of available federal funding added to tension during a meeting regarding Fort Worth’s Panther Island project.

Tarrant Regional Water District board members were assured Tuesday the federal money needed to keep the project on a critical path schedule through 2019, about $9.8 million, is available.

The need for additional money though becomes more pressing after that, primarily for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction of a new channel on the Trinity River, running under bridges that are almost done.

“There’s a lot of tension,” said board member James Hill. “This is a big project. It’s important for the community for this project to be successful.”

The meeting came a day after the USACE did not include the project in its work plan for 2019. The corps is responsible for the bulk of the future spending on the project, to the tune of $525 million.

With the next disbursement of funding uncertain, Hill defended the need for an outside review of the project during the meeting, while board member Jim Lane said he didn’t understand what was being reviewed, or why there were public calls to scale the project back.

The board voted last month to recommend the review. The Trinity River Vision Authority is expected to reveal the scope of that review in a meeting next week.
Lane said there was nothing to be concerned about, that the board knew there would be times when funding would not come through.

“Politics is involved in this, it always is,” he said. “Washington needs to go on about doing their business, and leave us alone,” Lane said. “Fund it like you said you would, we’ll do our part. We have, and we’ll finish this project.”

The executive director of the Trinity River Vision Authority, JD Granger, also took time during the meeting to defend the agency’s role in promoting development on the future island.

The local portion of the project, more than $582 million, is largely dependent on increased property values to cover that cost.