A Texas congresswoman’s son will continue running a Fort Worth project that, after 16 years and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, still hasn’t completed any phase of construction.
The troubled project will continue to be run by Jim Oliver, general manager of the Tarrant Regional Water District, and J.D. Granger, executive director of the Trinity River Vision Authority, despite the fact the two are responsible for its mismanagement since the TRVA’s inception in 2006.
Oliver informed Texas Scorecard in an email Thursday morning that “J.D. Granger is still going to run the project” known as Panther Island. Granger is the son of U.S. Rep. Kay Granger (R–Fort Worth), who was first elected to Congress in 1996. Prior to that, she served as mayor of Fort Worth.
“The TRVA, as it exists today, will be absorbed into TRWD,” Oliver said in an email. “JD will remain as executive director or its equivalent and will have virtually the same responsibilities as he has today.”
Panther Island, conceived in 2003, is a massive government plan to reroute the Trinity River via a 1.5-mile bypass—and redevelop prime Fort Worth real estate—all under the guise of flood control.
The TRVA was the entity created in 2006 to oversee coordination of the bypass channel, recreational amenities, and land redevelopment. J.D. Granger was hired to head the agency even though he lacked any previous work experience for a project of this size and scope.
In 2019, after years of cost overruns and delays, a third-party firm was hired to perform a programmatic review of the project. The review found Panther Island has so far cost taxpayers more than $383 million—with zero construction completed—and cost estimates exploding from $435 million in 2006 to more than $1.168 billion in 2018.
On top of a runaway price tag, the project’s completion date has been delayed until 2028, dependent on whether the project receives federal taxpayer funds of over $600 million.
The review also found administrative bloat in TRVA’s annual budget, including more than $220,000 in public relations propaganda, and revealed that Granger colluded with Tarrant Regional Water District Executive Director Jim Oliver to keep the TRVA board in the dark.
On Wednesday, the TRVA board met and approved some organizational changes but did not terminate Granger. In fact, Granger will continue reporting to Oliver even though the third-party review recommended instituting a wall of separation between the TRWD general manager and TRVA executive director.
“Right now, I’ve been under both Jim [Oliver] and TRVA,” Granger said. “I’m still going to be under Jim, no matter what.”
Texas Scorecard asked Granger what assurances taxpayers have that costs will not increase more and that the new deadline will be met.
“Everyone’s doing their best to do that,” he responded.