Sunday, July 21, 2013

Construction constraints

The first two items of the Special Conditions, address the details of implementing the Proposed Central Texas Airport’s mitigation plan. Mitigation banks provide off-site mitigation so that bad environmental things can happen in another location (very similar to carbon credits). Mitigation banking has previously been addressed on this blog. In this case, the necessary credits have been purchased from the Wilbarger Creek Mitigation Bank. Commencement of construction is dependent on completing this transaction.

The third item, cautions against starting work in the permit area that has not been evaluated by the Corps including but not limited to “haul roads, equipment staging areas and borrow and disposal sites”. The language is verbose and attempts to be a big stick. It’s encouraging to see that the Corps is doing its best to lay down some ground-rules but developers are notorious for cutting corners that lead to environmental destruction. The question is, who’s watching?

Unfortunately, it’s pretty much an honor system. The Corps’ Compliance and Enforcement division (for permitted projects and unpermitted projects respectively) consists of three field and one clerical officers. They are allotted 10% each of the Corps’ budget totaling 20%. Even with an awareness that the CTA project is a contentious issue, how often do you think they’ll be driving down from Fort Worth to pay us a visit? If and when the time comes (hopefully never!), the County should consider assigning someone on their staff to monitor things on a regular basis or deputize citizen volunteers to keep an eye on things. A close watch will likely be needed.

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