Last week, a federal court held that the U.S. Army Corps was negligent in its inspection of New Orleans' levees, essentially making the Corps responsible for the ensuing loss of life, mayhem and massive blow dealt the city by Hurricane Katrina. While the Corps is expected to appeal the decision, it's not taking any more chances, according an in-depth article in today's Dallas Morning News, "Corps of Engineers' Caution in Dallas Tied to Liability After Katrina."
Certainly this has been seen in the Corps approach to the Trinity River Corridor Project, a massive $2.5 billion undertaking that includes remaking the Trinity River in a partnership with the city of Dallas and other public and private partners in an urban revitalization that would "establish the role of the Trinity River floodplain as the front yard of the city," according to the project's Web site.
Dallas' levees have never failed to protect the property along what reporter Michael A. Lindenberger describes as "aging earthen dikes" along the Trinity River. But recently, the levees flunked a Corps inspection "brining work on key elements of the city's largest-ever public works project to a halt," reports Lindenberger. He quotes Kevin Craig, manager of the corps' Trinity River levee efforts, who says that "since Katrina, the corps has tried to establish more uniform levee safety standards across the country."
Some have wondered if the Corps has become overly cautious about the situation in Dallas where the Trinity River is not thought of as a threat, unnecessarily slowing work. But "it's easy to overlook potential for disaster," says Lindenberger, whose story goes on to outline differences between the cities but also three key similarities in New Orleans and Dallas: trees, soil and "competing interests.